You may have heard of a couple getting an annulment in the media instead of getting a divorce. Most famously, Britney Spears got an annulment for her Vegas wedding. Kim Kardashian also filed for an annulment after her 72 days of marriage. You may wonder if an annulment is easy to get in the state of Texas. Is it better to get an annulment rather than a divorce?
It is actually not easy to get an annulment in Texas. There are very specific reasons why you would get an annulment in Texas rather than a divorce. Our Texas divorce attorneys are explaining what the difference between an annulment and a divorce is and how you can actually get an annulment in Texas.
What is an Annulment?
A marriage annulment is a legal finding that declares a marriage invalid based on certain grounds that vary from state to state.
A legal annulment is also different from a religious annulment. A religious annulment speaks only to your status in your church. However, the state of Texas does not legally recognize a religious annulment. It is possible under certain circumstances to receive both a legal annulment and a religious annulment.
The biggest difference between a divorce and an annulment is that a divorce is a legal ending to a valid marriage. Whereas an annulment is a legal ending to a marriage that was never valid.
What are Grounds for an Annulment in Texas?
There are specific situations in which the courts will grant an annulment in Texas. The annulment will be approved if the judge finds one of the situations listed to be confirmed.
- Under Age – The legal marriage age in Texas is 18. In Texas, you can marry with parental consent at the age of 16 or 17. If one spouse is under age and did not have parental content, you can seek an annulment.
- Sooner than the Waiting Period – Texas has a mandatory waiting period of 72 hours when the county issues the marriage license and the wedding ceremony. If your marriage happens sooner than 72 hours, you can seek an annulment.
- Concealed Divorce – You can ask for an annulment if your spouse was divorced from their previous marriage for less than 30 days. You must prove that you didn’t know and you must not have not voluntarily lived with them since you found out.
- Under the Influence – If one (or both) spouses were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of marriage, you can be granted an annulment. Both spouses must not have been voluntarily living together since the effects wore off.
- Fraud – You can file for an annulment if one spouse is coerced by fraud, duress, or forced by the other to enter the marriage. But the other spouse must not have voluntarily lived with the first spouse since they realized the deception.
- Mental Illness – You can seek an annulment if a mental illness prevents the consent to the marriage and the spouses have not been voluntarily living together since the illness was known.
How Soon Should I File for an Annulment?
There is no time limit on when you can file for an annulment for many of the situations listed above. But there are some exceptions:
- If one spouse was underage, the annulment must happen before they turn 18
- In the case of a concealed divorce, the annulment must happen before the 1st anniversary of the new spouses
- If the marriage occurred within the 72-hour waiting period, then you have 30 days from the marriage to seek an annulment
How to Get an Annulment in Texas
The best way to start the annulment process is to speak with an experienced Texas family law attorney. Your attorney will begin by filing a petition for an annulment. Then the other spouse has the opportunity to agree or oppose the annulment. The courts will decide the legalities of child support, custody, and division of property at this time.
Most annulments happen quicker than a divorce since the marriage usually doesn’t last as long and there are fewer issues to decide.