Could Annulment Be Possible?

annulment, DuPage County family law attorneyLast fall, media outlets took note of action being taken by Pope Francis regarding the Catholic Church’s stance on the annulment of marriages. In the vast majority of cases, an annulment approved by the Catholic Church follows a legal divorce approved by the state or other appropriate jurisdiction. The two processes are entirely separate and one has little, if any bearing on the other.

What many people do not realize, however, is that annulment, or the declaration that a marriage was invalid, is not limited to religious laws. The state of Illinois also provides very specific situations in which a marriage may be determined to be invalid from a legal standpoint as well. A legal annulment is extremely rare thanks to processes in place to ensure that a couple wishing to marry are eligible to do, but if and when the need should arise, it is important to understand what the law says.

Grounds for Annulment

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act refers to an annulment as a declaration of the invalidity of a marriage. There are four separate grounds that permit a court to enter a judgment making such a declaration:

  • One party to the marriage lacked the capacity to provide consent at the time of marriage, due illness, mental incapacity, or the influence of drugs, alcohol, or other substances. Consenting to the marriage under force or duress may also constitute grounds for a judgment;
  • One party is not physically capable of consummating the marriage by sexual intercourse, and the other party was not aware of the problem at the time of the marriage;
  • One party was aged 16 or 17 and had neither parental permission nor judicial approval to proceed with the marriage; or
  • The marriage was prohibited by other statutes, such as a marriage between family members.

Time Constraints

To obtain a declaration of the invalidity of marriage, the party seeking an annulment—or the representative for the party—must begin the proceedings within a set amount of time, depending on the grounds. Action must be commenced within 90 days of obtaining knowledge of the incapacity to consent and within one year of discovering the inability to consummate the marriage. Action regarding an underage party must be commenced prior to the party reaching the age at which additional consent is not needed.

If you are considering your options for ending your marriage, an annulment is not likely to be appropriate. However, before making a decision, be sure to discuss your case with an experienced DuPage County family law attorney. Our knowledgeable team will help you understand the law and the best way to handle your particular situation.

 

Sources:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/09/the-vaticans-new-policy-on-annulments-the-first-hint-of-shake-ups-to-come/404182/

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?DocName=075000050HPt%2E+III&ActID=2086&ChapterID=59&SeqStart=3100000&SeqEnd=3800000

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