Maryland Divorce Guide

Annulment

Got questions about getting an annulment in Maine? Get the legal answers here

An annulment in this state is a declaration by a court that the marriage never existed, or should never have existed, and returns the parties to single status. In order to have a marriage annulled, you must provide proof (grounds) that legally qualify you for the invalidation.  Acceptable grounds include:

  • parties are too closely related – sometimes called consanguinity, couples are prohibited to marry if they are closer than first cousins (fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, uncles, aunts, etc.).
  • multiple spouses – at the time of the marriage, one spouse had another living husband or wife (sometimes called bigamy).
  • mental disability – there was, at the time of the wedding ceremony, a condition that prevented a spouse to reasonably consent to the marriage. Conditions can range from mental illness (a more permanent condition) to intoxication (an induced condition).
  • one party coerced the other into marrying – browbeat, bully or intimidate someone into a marriage, agreeing to marry under duress. The condition must have occurred during the ceremony. Threats against a party to get married are examples of coercion.
  •  one party defrauded the other – lies alone will not get your marriage annulled. There must have been a non-disclosure that affects the health and/or well-being of the other party or their children. Hiding a material fact like having contracted AIDS or is insane in the past might get the marriage invalidated.
  • underage – minors (under age 18) who marry at age 16 or 17 and do not receive a parent’s written permission, or minors under age 16.
Coercion and fraud can be tricky in that the innocent party must not continue to cohabitate with the other party once s/he learns of the fraud or realizes s/he was coerced into marriage. Continuing to live with the offending spouse, in the eyes of the court, implies acceptance of the fraud or coercion.

Filing an annulment is similar to filing for a divorce

You will begin by filing one of the three forms below:

You will file your petition in the circuit court in the county where you or your spouse resides. Once filed, the clerk of the court will advise you on how your spouse must be notified (served). Choose your method of notification and have him or her served. A hearing will be held (the date is on your’s and your spouse’s paperwork returned to you by the clerk) at which time you must testify as to why the marriage should be annulled. Unlike a divorce, where your spouse can choose to not contest the action, an annulment must be proven, and the facts/evidence must fit at least one ground mentioned above. If you convince the judge, s/he may sign the annulment on the spot or forward the approval in the mail.

Filing for an annulment can occur soon after the marriage or can happen months or years down the road. No matter when the petition is filed, any additional requirements that may be required must be met before an annulment can be granted.

Check what family services programs might be available in your jurisdiction.

[Maryland Code – Family Law Chapter – Sections: 2-201, 2-202, 5-202, 2-301]

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