If you are considering ending your marriage in Ohio, you may have heard about annulments as an alternative to divorce. Annulment is a legal process that declares a marriage invalid or void, as if it never happened. While divorce ends a valid marriage, annulment erases it from the beginning.
Why will a court grant an annulment in Ohio?
To get an annulment in Ohio, you need to prove that your marriage is void or voidable. Ohio law defines specific reasons that may qualify for annulment. They are:
- Bigamy: One spouse was already married to someone else at the time of the marriage.
- Incest: The couple is closely related by blood, such as siblings or parent-child.
- Mental incapacity: One or both spouses lacked the mental capacity to consent to the marriage due to mental illness, intellectual disability, or intoxication.
- Fraud or duress: One spouse was tricked or forced into the marriage by the other, such as lying about identity, finances, or fertility.
- Age: One or both spouses were under the legal age of marriage in Ohio, which is 18, without parental or court consent.
- Consummation: the spouses never consummated the marriage.
The time limit to file for an annulment depends on the grounds for annulment. You have two years from the date of marriage to file for an annulment on the grounds of force or consummation. Alternatively, if the grounds for annulment is fraud, you have two years from when you learned of your spouse’s fraud. If your grounds for annulment are that your spouse was already married – or in a bigamous relationship – there is no time limit as long as both parties are still alive.
What are the consequences of an annulment on a marriage in Ohio?
Unlike divorce, which ends a valid marriage and divides property and debts based on Ohio’s equitable distribution laws, annulment treats the marriage as if it never existed. Therefore, the consequences of annulment are different from those of divorce. They include:
- Property and debt division: Because annulment erases the marriage, there is no marital property or debt to divide. Instead, each spouse keeps their separate property and debts.
- Spousal support: Unlike divorce, there is no spousal support in annulment. This is because annulment erases the marital relationship, so there is no need to provide for the economic needs of a former spouse.
- Child custody and support: If you have children from the annulled marriage, you still need to determine child custody and support. An annulment does not terminate parental rights or obligations. You will need to file a separate case for these issues.
Is there any other relevant information that I should know?
Annulment is a complicated legal process that requires proof of specific grounds and adherence to strict procedural rules. It is not an easy way out of a marriage that is not working. In fact, annulment can be more challenging than divorce because of the high burden of proof and the lack of statutory guidance. Therefore, it is crucial to seek legal advice from an experienced Ohio family law attorney who can guide you through the process and protect your rights.
Atkins And Atkins attorneys are knowledgeable, compassionate, and dedicated to achieving the best possible outcome for our clients. If you are considering an annulment or any other family law matter in Ohio, please contact us for a consultation. We will listen to your concerns, answer your questions, and provide you with a personalized strategy to meet your needs.