Texas Divorce Guide

Annulment

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A marriage annulment is a legal process where a party to a marriage petitions the court to have the marriage annulled, or rendered as never having existed.  The burden of proof is greater for an annulment than it is for a dissolution (divorce). In an annulment proceeding, the petitioner must prove with facts, witnesses and corroboration. Grounds for annulment in Texas include:

  • Fraud, Force or Duress – If your spouse used fraud to obtain your consent for marriage, or you were under undue duress when you married, you can file for annulment according to Texas law. Continuing to live with the perpetrator after learning of the fraud negates the use of this ground.
  • Consanguinity or Incest – marrying someone to closely related e.g. having sexual or marital relationship with a natural parent, child, grandparent, grandchild, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, stepparent, stepchild etc.
  • Intoxification – A party to the marriage was too intoxicated (alcohol, drugs) to have given consent. In order to use this ground, a party must not have lived with the spouse once the intoxication wore off.
  • Bigamy – is a valid ground for a marriage annulment. You can receive an annulment for bigamous behavior. However, you can still have a valid marriage if one of the partners has another husband or wife and that marriage is dissolved while the couple continues to live together. In these cases, annulment no longer becomes an option.
  • Impotency – Your partner unable to consummate the marriage can bring about an annulment. Impotence must be a permanent condition for it to apply, and a party must not have lived with the impotent spouse after discovering the condition.
  • Underage Marriage – one spouse must file the annulment papers unless they are underage (below age 18), in which case a parent or guardian must file. State law requires parties to reach age 18 to marry on their own, or age 16 with consent by a parent or guardian. Turning age 18 disallows a partner from filing for annulment.
  • Marriage less than 72 hours after marital license granted

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Some of the legal grounds come with parameters. They include:
  • If the one partner had a ongoing marriage when married this time, s/he can have that married dissolved and the current marriage becomes legit. 
  • Annulments must be filed by persons over age 18. If one spouse is below that age they can have a parent file for them. When that person reaches the legal age to marry (18) the spouse may not file for an annulment. 
  • In cases where impotency is claimed, if when the spouse learned about the impotency s/he continued to live with the impotent spouse, the right to claim impotency for an annulment is lost. 
  • The legal age to marry in this state is age 18. The legal age to marry is 16 if the minor gets consent of the parent or guardian. Marriage of a girl over 14 is allowed to prevent a statutory rape conviction in this state. Outside of these exceptions, most other arrangements are not considered legal. 
  • In marriages involving fraud, duress or force, if the parties continued to live together after the fraud was discovered, or the duress or force was no longer present, they may no longer qualify for an annulment.

After meeting residency requirements (lived in the state for at least 6 months immediately before the filing and three months in the county), one files a petition for an annulment in the circuit court of the county either of you have lived in for at least 6 months. Once filed, the district court clerk’s office will give you a hearing date, and then serve legal notice on your spouse with a notice to appear. At the hearing, you must demonstrate with facts that the marriage should be annulled.

Unique to most states is the provision that permits spouses that want an annulment to insist on a jury trial. A hearing will result, either in front of a judge or a 12-person jury of your peers (from your county). It is at this stage that you must prove to the court (or jury) that your reasons for requesting an annulment are legit and should be granted.

[Texas Code – Family Code – Chapters: 6-Secs 101-110]

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