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Annulment - Fa Get About It

In a busy divorce law practice, not one week goes by without someone asking the infamous question: Can I get an annulment?

My usual answer: Fa Get About It! Annulment law is undefined in most states and has largely fallen by the wayside in favor of divorce. In most states there is no established procedure or set of rules for annulment. By contrast, divorce law is mostly defined in state statutes or codes and has a fairly rigid, consistent set of requirements.

The basic problem: there is not an absolute right to get an annulment. In many areas of the country, it is possible to file for annulment, pay a lot of money, go through the entire court process, properly follow existing annulment law, get to the end, and then have a judge deny the annulment. If that happens you are back to square one. The most common outcome is to go back to square one and file for a divorce.

The average group of people that want annulment have similar facts but have little chance of successfully getting the annulment: They are married more than 6 months, consummated the marriage or tried to consummate the marriage (that means having sex!) , lived together as a married couple for more than a month, own some assets together, or got along well until they started wanting to end the marriage. If you fall into one of these categories, annulment law is not on your side. It will be an uphill battle and you will probably lose.

However, there are some rare situations that may qualify you for an annulment: You are young, want children, and your new spouse sterilized themselves the year before - all while telling you they wanted lots of children AND you found out twenty days after you go married. Or, you are African-American and your new spouse is secretly a Nazi Skinhead that vows to wipe African-Americans off the face of the earth AND it was kept secret from you AND you found out a ten days after your wedding ceremony. Or, you find out your new husband is actually a woman that had a sex change operation.

As you can see, the grounds for annulment tend to be extreme and difficult to satisfy. Even more so, an attempt to annul your marriage may chew up lots of money. But if your situation falls into one of the rare categories discussed above, there is no reason why you shouldn't seek to annul your marriage. In any case, getting an annulment as a substitute for divorce must be extremely important to you, given the potential pitfalls.

In many parts of the country, division of property in an annulment is similar to a divorce. Even though there are no annulment statutes in most areas, the courts tend to use similar rules as in a divorce action.

The procedure for an annulment: an annulment is filed as a regular lawsuit and the basic annulment procedure tends to be similar to divorce procedure. There is a petition for annulment, a summons, and a requirement for a process server. In many cases your spouse will answer the annulment petition and counterclaim for divorce. If this happens, the progress of the case will become almost exactly like a divorce. In any case, the court will treat your annulment case similar to divorce. A good guide to annulment procedure would be articles detailing the standard steps required in divorce.

You should read up on divorce law and procedure as an aid toward your annulment case. Be aware that annulment law consists of a lot of uncharted territory. A marriage annulment may not be the best procedure to do without the assistance of an attorney. In any case be prepared for a lot of twists and turns possibly ending in a return to square one.

Howard Iken is the founder and managing attorney. He represents divorce clients in Tampa, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, New Port Richey, Pinellas, Pasco, and Hernando County, Florida. For more information, call his toll free number at 1-888-4My-Divorce (1-888-469-3486). Get a free education on annulment by visiting Annulment You can view the common steps in a divorce by visiting Divorce Steps

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