Annulment of Marriage in Florida
The dissolution of a marriage is an emotionally charged process that can leave many feeling overwhelmed and confused.
In Florida, there are two primary ways to legally terminate a matrimonial bond: divorce proceedings and annulment. If you want to end your marriage, which method is right for you?
While divorce is a more commonly known concept, the idea of annulment tends to be shrouded in ambiguity, partly because it's not actually provided for in Florida statutes. Let’s take a closer look at possible avenues for ending your marriage, including annulment, in Florida.
In Florida, an annulment may be referred to as a “declaration of nullity” in some religious practices.
Can you get an annulment in Florida?
Not every state allows annulments, but you can get one in Florida. That said, Florida state law doesn’t explicitly provide for annulments. That’s confusing, but bear with us. In Florida, grounds for annulment are not clearly defined in the statutes. But they do exist, and they are based on case law precedent.
Unlike divorce, an annulment does not simply end a marriage. Rather, it declares it invalid from its inception, as if the marriage never happened.
Requirements for annulment in Florida
To qualify for an annulment in Florida, you must demonstrate that your marriage is voidable from the beginning – or that it was never a valid marriage to begin with. An invalid marriage was illegal from the start. For example, a marriage involving bigamy or close kinship would be voidable.
On the other hand, a voidable marriage is one that could be considered valid until annulled. Examples include marriages entered into under duress, fraud, or mental incapacity to consent.
How to get an annulment in Florida
To get an annulment, you must file a petition with the court detailing your proposed grounds for the annulment. It's advisable to consult with a lawyer to navigate this complex legal process.
Here are some examples of situations in which an annulment may be granted in Florida.
Fraud or misrepresentation
This is one of the most common grounds for annulment. Simply put, one party has deceived the other about a fundamental aspect of their relationship. They may have concealed their inability to have children, a criminal record, or the truth about their financial stability.
If one or both parties were under the legal age to marry at the time of the wedding, an annulment may be granted. Consent given by an underage person is viewed as invalid. Why? Because they are considered unable to fully understand the implications of marriage.
One spouse cannot consummate the union
If one party is unable to consummate the marriage due to impotence, and this was not disclosed before the marriage, it could be a basis for annulment. This ground requires that the impotence be incurable and that the other person did not realize it when they wed.
Requirements for divorce in Florida
Now let’s take a look at another option for ending marriage in Florida: Divorce.
Also known as dissolution of marriage, a Florida divorce requires you to show the irretrievable breakdown of your marriage. Alternatively, you can opt to prove that your spouse was mentally incapacitated for a minimum of three years.
Unlike annulment, divorce does not require proof of wrongdoing at the start of the marriage.
To file for a divorce, one member of the couple must have lived in Florida for at least six months prior to filing. Both parties must agree that the marriage cannot be saved. Or, one party must prove that the marriage is irretrievably broken.
Alimony is not usually awarded in a Florida annulment. However, you may be eligible for spousal support in the wake of a divorce.
Should you seek divorce or annulment?
The choice between a divorce and an annulment largely depends on your circumstances. If you wish to erase the legal existence of your marriage entirely, an annulment may be the right course of action. But remember that the grounds for an annulment are quite specific, and proving them can be complex.
On the other hand, if you're looking for a way to end your marriage, divorce may be the more straightforward option. You may decide to consult with a legal professional to understand the implications of each choice and to determine the best course of action for your situation.
At Hello Divorce, we help with annulments as well as divorces. We understand that you may have questions or need legal advice about spousal or child support, child custody, remarriage, and other aspects of ending your relationship. Schedule a free 15-minute call to learn more about the options available to you.