When Can a Marriage Be Declared Invalid in Illinois?
If you got married fairly recently and you and your spouse are starting to experience some serious problems, you might be thinking that your marriage was a mistake. Maybe you and your spouse did not quite know each other as well as you thought, or maybe the things about your spouse that you once found endearing are no longer as appealing now that you are married. Many couples who find themselves in such a situation may consider filing for divorce, but some give thought to the idea of seeking an annulment. After all, they were not married very long, so an annulment can just undo the marriage, right?
Under Illinois law, an annulment does not simply “undo” a marriage. In fact, what used to be called an “annulment” is now known as a declaration of invalidity of marriage, and it is only available under very specific circumstances. Simply being unhappy with your spouse is not among them.
Understanding Annulments in Illinois
Part III of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) addresses the action of declaring a marriage invalid. Illinois law no longer refers to this action as an annulment. There are stringent grounds on which a marriage can be declared invalid. These grounds include:
If one party is still legally married to someone else, making the marriage bigamous.
If one spouse lacked the capacity to consent to the marriage during the solemnization because he or she was under the influence of drugs or alcohol or was suffering from a mental issue.
If one spouse agreed to wed based on fraudulent information from the other spouse. According to the law, the information must affect the “essentials of the marriage” in order to be considered fraud. For example, if the husband only married the wife in order to avoid deportation, but the wife did not know this, the marriage could be considered fraud. If the husband told the wife he was a CEO of a company, but in reality, he was only a low-level worker, that may not be considered fraud that could be used as the basis for declaring a marriage invalid.
If the marriage took place under force or duress.
If one or both of the spouses were 16 or 17 years of age at the time of the marriage but had not obtained approval to wed by a parent or guardian, or permission by an Illinois court.
If one spouse is physically unable to consummate the marriage but had not shared that information with the other spouse before they were wed.
It is important to understand that a declaration of invalidity of marriage is only appropriate if the details of the marriage made it invalid to begin with. A marriage that does not meet the requirements for an annulment can only be dissolved through divorce.
Call a Wheaton Family Law Attorney
If you or your spouse is seeking to end your marriage, an experienced DuPage County family lawyer can help you determine whether your marriage can be declared invalid, or whether you will need to dissolve your marriage through a divorce. We can also represent you throughout the legal process to protect your interests. Call 630-871-1002 for a free consultation at Andrew Cores Family Law Group today.