Sometimes marriages just don’t work out. While extremely difficult, terminating a marriage may be the couple’s best option. In Virginia, there are two different ways a marriage may be terminated–divorce or annulment.
While divorce ends a valid marriage, annulment ends a marriage that was invalid. Unlike divorce, which leaves a record, when a marriage is annulled, it is as if it never occurred. However there are certain criteria that must be satisfied in order for a spouse to be eligible for an annulment. Once there is proof of one of these grounds, the appropriate Circuit Court can issue a decree of annulment.
Void Marriages in Virginia
In Virginia, certain types of marriages are void from the very beginning. This means that the the Commonwealth actually prohibits them. These marriages include those in which:
- One spouse is still legally married to someone else who is currently alive;
- The spouses are ancestors, descendants, siblings (whole, half, adopted), niece and uncle or nephew and aunt (whole or half);
- One party lacked the capacity to be able to consent to the marriage because of mental incapacity or illness; and
- One or both parties is not at least 18 years old and has not been legally emancipated.
Bigamy is an automatic void without any divorce decree or other legal process.
Voidable Marriages in Virginia
A marriage is voidable (and eligible for annulment) so long as certain conditions have been met. This includes a failure to follow the license and solemnization requirements, the withholding of critical information from the other spouse, or an element of fraud. Specifically, a marriage may be voidable if
- The parties did not obtain a marriage license or were not married by a person authorized to solemnize a marriage;
- One party was naturally or incurably impotent at the time of entering into the marriage;
- One party was convicted of a felony before the marriage and the other party did not know.
- The wife was pregnant by someone else at the time of the marriage and the husband did not know;
- The husband fathered a child with someone other than his wife within 10 months after the marriage; or
- Before the marriage, either party had been a prostitute without the knowledge of the other.
It is important to note that even if the parties did not have capacity to marry, one of last five conditions immediately listed above exists, or the parties married due to fraud or duress, the marriage cannot be annulled if the party requesting the annulment cohabitated with the other party after they were aware of the pertinent facts. Also, in no event can a decree of annulment be entered if the parties were married for at least two years prior to bringing the suit for annulment.
Surovell Isaacs & Levy PLC Can Help
If you are looking to have your marriage ended through annulment, or you want to know more about both options, it is important that you seek a knowledgeable and experienced family law attorney to help you through this difficult time. At Surovell Isaacs & Levy PLC, we are on your side and will help you get the right outcome for you. To learn more or to schedule a consultation, visit us online or call us at 703.651.2065 today!
Posted in: Family Law