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A marriage annulment renders the union null and void, illegal, or never should have occurred. There is a specific process associated with a marital annulment that looks similar to separation and dissolution . One must file a petition, serve the other party and claim one of Tennessee’s grounds for annulment. Acceptable grounds for annulment include:
- Fraud – any form of misrepresentation or by deceiving someone. If your spouse has gained your agreement to marry by fraud (lying about getting sterilized, being pregnant by a third person, or any other type of fraud)
- Bigamy – you must be legally single at the time of marriage. If one party had a previous marriage and could not locate that person for at least 5 years, an annulment may proceed
- Consanguinity or Incest – annulments are granted for marrying a relative too closely related
- Duress – Marriages made under duress or force can be annulled
- Sexual Dysfunction – If your spouse is impotent and this is affecting your marital relationship. Living together and/or having sexual relations before the marriage will, in most cases, negate any claim to this ground
- Underage Marriage – marrying while a minor. The legal age for marriage is 16. If you sought and received permission to marry while below age 16 from a circuit court judge, you most likely lose the right to claim underage as a ground. A parent or guardian can file for annulment on behalf of a married minor.
- Incurable Insanity – Your spouse has no hope of recovering can permit an annulment. If the insane person recovers during the marriage and continues to live with the other spouse, insanity is lost as a ground.
- Pregnancy by another – Your wife has gotten pregnant by another
You must file a Complaint for Annulment in the circuit court of the county where either you or your spouse currently lives. Required information includes full details of each spouse, the details of any children, and whether or not you request that the court decide issues surrounding child support, child custody, alimony, visitation or division of marital property. One of you must have lived in Tennessee for at least 6 months.
File your complaint in the circuit court clerk’s office and serve your spouse with a copy of the complaint. The court will schedule a hearing, where you must prove with evidence and witnesses (if needed) that your grounds are valid. If the court agrees with you, it will issue a judgment for annulment.
The state also has a provision in code for any other reason the marriage was not binding as a ground for annulment, leaving open the possibility of the court accepting a reason other than the above.
[Tennessee Code – Volume 6A, Title 36, Sections 36-3-101 102; 36-4-125; 36-3-113]
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