Nobody enters a marriage anticipating an eventual divorce, especially shortly after beginning your lives together. Unfortunately, some people begin experiencing substantial and irresolvable problems with their spouses immediately after getting married. Perhaps your spouse is not who you thought they were; maybe living together has given you a new perspective on what an entire life spent with your spouse would really be like.
Whatever the reason you want to separate from your partner, you may be wondering whether an annulment is an option for you. Many people believe all marriages can be annulled if only they are short enough. However, Illinois law sets forth very specific provisions for when an annulment can take place. In this article, we will answer some common questions about marriage annulments.
What Is a Marriage Annulment in Illinois?
Annulment is no longer a term used in Illinois law. Now, the law refers to whether a marriage can be declared “invalid” - and there are only certain circumstances when this term applies. A marriage can be declared invalid only if it meets one of the following conditions:
- One of the spouses was under 18 and did not obtain consent from a parent or legal guardian
- One spouse was already married at the time the marriage in question took place
- One spouse could not consent to the marriage due to drugs or alcohol use or mental incapacity
- One spouse presented a fraudulent picture of themselves that affects the essentials of the marriage. For example, if a woman married a man in order to avoid deportation, and the man did not know but later finds out, their marriage could be considered fraudulent.
- One spouse coerced the other spouse in marriage under force or duress
- One spouse is unable to engage in sexual activities but did not tell the other spouse prior to the marriage
Is Annulment Easier than Divorce?
Because the conditions annulment requires are much stricter than divorce, annulment is not usually an option. However, if a couple qualifies to have their marriage annulled, they often must do so under strict time limits.
For example, if a spouse wishes to leave a marriage for reasons of incapacitation due to alcohol, drugs, mental impairment, or force/coercion, they must do so within 90 days of the marriage’s beginning. Parents whose minor child got illegally married must wait until the child turns 18 to pursue an annulment. If a spouse cannot engage in sexual marital relations, the marriage must be annulled within a year. Finally, if a spouse wishes to annul the marriage due to their spouse already being married to someone else, there is no time limit.
How Do I File for an Annulment?
A spouse wishing to file for annulment in Illinois must file a Petition for Annulment with the circuit court of the county in which they currently reside. This form must provide a sufficient explanation of why the marriage is invalid. The form is then served to the other spouse, who must contest or agree. Then the petition is submitted to a judge, who will decide whether the couple has grounds for annulment.
Work with a Wheaton Family Law Attorney
People decide to leave their marriages for many reasons. If you are considering divorce or annulment, reach out to a DuPage County family law attorney at Andrew Cores Family Law Group. We have experience helping people end marriages of all lengths for any reason, and will offer you a non-judgmental space to explore your options under Illinois law. Call us today to schedule a confidential consultation at 630-871-1002.