Virginia Divorce Guide


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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. Wave the magic legal wand and poof, it’s toast. 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 Virginia include:

  • Fraud and 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 Virginia annulment laws
  • 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.
  • Same-Sex Marriage
  • Bigamy – is a valid ground for a marriage annulment. You can receive a marriage annulment for bigamous behavior
  • Impotency – Your partner unable to consummate the marriage can bring about an annulment
  • Underage Marriage
  • Prostitution or convicted felon – You weren’t aware she was one when you married
  • Incompetent – one spouse wasn’t mentally able to understand the marriage
  • Child by another person – a wife is pregnant by another man at the time of marriage or a husband has a child by another woman within 10 months of marriage
  • Sham marriage – the parties got married with ulterior motives not consistent with traditional marriage

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Some of the legal grounds come with parameters. They include:

  • For an annulment to be granted for stress, the spouse must have been threatened or coerced at the time of the marriage. 
  • In order for fraud to meet the test of a legal ground, the fraudulent act must be serious enough that had the other spouse known at the time, the marriage would not have happened. 
  • 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. 
  • Sham marriage are unions like marriages for immigration status or marriages as a joke. 

After meeting residency requirements (lived here at least 6 months immediately before the filing), 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 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.

If there is a chance your Ex will try to manipulate you or the kids with the visitation schedule, put an on-line Parenting Plan in place. Nothing stops the game-playing like a schedule in black and white. Simply tell your Ex that in order for the schedule to be changed, it must be discussed and agreed to; otherwise it is not changing.

[Virginia Code – Title 20 – Sections: 20-38.1; 20-43; 20-45.1, 2; 20-89.1; 20-31.1]

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