Most people enter into marriage hoping it will last a lifetime. However, this is not always the case. While spouses typically use divorce to terminate their marriage, an annulment is another often overlooked option.
That said, marriage annulment in Alabama is only permitted under specific circumstances. As such, it is not available in all situations. You can use our guide below to learn more about marriage annulment in Alabama. Then contact the family law attorneys at The Law Offices of Charlotte Christian and Associates to discuss the facts of your case and see whether annulment may be the right option for you.
What Is Annulment?
So, you might be wondering, What exactly is annulment, and how is it different from divorce?
While both divorce and annulment are processes through which a couple can end their marriage, there are some key differences between the two. A divorce dissolves a valid legal marriage between two spouses and can be sought for any reason. An annulment, on the other hand, is a process used to void the underlying marriage entirely.
In short, an annulment is a legal process that effectively declares a marriage invalid from its inception. The annulment cancels the marriage, making it as if the marriage never happened at all. However, due to its drastic effect, annulments are very rare and can only be obtained when certain facts exist.
Annulment Laws in Alabama: What Are Grounds for Annulment?
Under Alabama law, a marriage can be declared invalid and subject to annulment where, at the time the marriage was entered into, one or more parties were:
- Under the age of 18, or between 16 and 18 with the consent of a parent or guardian;
- Currently married to another spouse, referred to as bigamy;
- Not legally competent and able to provide proper consent to enter into marriage;
- Related by blood or adoption in violation of Alabama Code Section 13A-13-3; or
- Induced to enter into the marriage based on fraud or under duress or undue influence.
While some grounds, such as age and bigamy, are typically easier to prove, others, such as fraud and duress, can be more complicated. For example, with respect to fraud, only certain types of misrepresentations that go to the essence of the marriage may constitute grounds for annulment.
Thus, due to the complexities surrounding annulments in Alabama, be sure to speak with a qualified family law attorney who can help you navigate the process.
How to Get an Annulment in Alabama
The idea behind an annulment is that the underlying marriage is void and invalid. Nevertheless, you must go through a formal annulment process to have the marriage officially declared invalid by a judge.
To obtain an annulment, the first step is to prepare and file a petition for annulment with the court. In this petition, you must include identifying information about yourself and your spouse, along with your grounds for seeking an annulment.
After filing your petition and paying the filing fee, you must then serve the petition on your spouse. This service formally notifies them of the pending action. Thereafter, the court will schedule a hearing to determine whether proper grounds exist to order the marriage annulled.
Notably, the party seeking the annulment will have the burden of proving that the marriage is invalid. As such, it’s imperative that you prepare appropriately to give yourself the best chance possible of proving your case.
What Happens If I Don’t Meet the Requirements to File for Marriage Annulment in Alabama?
It’s no secret that an annulment is more difficult to obtain than a divorce. Thus, there is always a possibility that the judge may refuse to grant your petition for annulment. If this happens, don’t fret—speak with an attorney to discuss your options and see whether filing for divorce might be right for you instead.
Need an Annulment in Alabama? Speak with the Family Law Attorneys at Our Firm Today
Ending a marriage is never easy. And matters can feel even more complicated when you’re seeking to invalidate the marriage altogether through an annulment.
While Alabama law does not require parties to have legal counsel to seek an annulment, an attorney can greatly benefit your case.
For example, an experienced family law attorney can help with the following:
- Prepare and file your petition for annulment with the court,
- Gather evidence to help support your claims,
- Interview and prepare witnesses who may be able to testify on your behalf, and
- Present your case at the annulment hearing.
When you’re facing such an emotional and complex process, know that you don’t have to go through it on your own. At The Law Offices of Charlotte Christian and Associates, we pride ourselves on working tirelessly to protect the rights and interests of our clients, all while providing them with the attention, compassion, and support they need.