What is an Annulment?
If you obtain an annulment, it basically means your marriage never took place, at least in the eyes of the law. The word “annulment” also has a religious connotation, but this blog post is about a legal annulment, and specifically, annulment in Virginia. It is uncommon that the facts of a case will lend themselves to pursuing an annulment. Annulment should be distinguished from divorce. A Northern Virginia divorce proceeding results in the dissolution of your marriage, and a Northern Virginia annulment proceeding, results in the complete eradication of your marriage (if successful, then it never existed). Persons in Northern Virginia seeking an annulment should speak with an experienced family law attorney who can assist and explain when it would be appropriate to file for an annulment in Northern Virginia.
When Can I Obtain an Annulment in Northern Virginia?
Generally speaking, if you are eligible to petition for an annulment in Northern Virginia, your marriage is either void, or voidable. If your marriage is void, you may be surprised to learn that you do not even need to file a formal petition to obtain your annulment (at least in Virginia, but other states may have different rules). This is because if your marriage is void, the Commonwealth of Virginia never recognized it in the first place, and therefore there is nothing to nullify. However, that does not prevent you from filing for an annulment, to try and obtain judicial recognition that your marriage never took place. Sometimes, a void marriage can be attacked by the Commonwealth of Virginia, or even some third parties.
You can also file for an annulment in Northern Virginia if your marriage is voidable. The difference between a void marriage, and a voidable marriage, is that a voidable marriage did take place in the eyes of the law, and you must file a formal petition or complaint to begin the process, and hopefully obtain your annulment. If your action for annulment is successful, then your marriage would be deemed to have never existed. It is possible in some cases to turn a voidable marriage into a valid marriage; this process is known as ratification.
What is the Difference Between Void and Voidable Marriages With Regard to my Property and Support Payments?
The issues that a court may have jurisdiction over in Northern Virginia divorce and annulment proceedings, are division of property, allocation of debts, determinations regarding custody and visitation, and determination of spousal and child support payments. Courts in Northern Virginia have jurisdiction over all of those issues in your divorce case. In contrast, the court may have jurisdiction over spousal support and division of property in an annulment proceeding, if your marriage is voidable, but it does not if your marriage is void. Property division and spousal support are complicated matters in Northern Virginia divorce proceedings, and are even more complicated in annulment proceedings.
Annulment is a complex family law issue. This blog post only touches on the surface, and provides some general information. Consulting with an experienced family law attorney is highly recommended if you find yourself in a situation where you believe an annulment may be appropriate.