Sometimes marriage is recognized as a mistake from the very start. Couples can marry in haste or for the wrong reasons and quickly realize that they do not belong together. Sometimes one partner entering a marriage hides relevant facts from the other. In such cases, the couple may be able to obtain an annulment, which is a legal declaration that the marriage never existed.
When available, an annulment ends all claims that either person may have had to the other’s insurance, retirement benefits, inheritance, or other assets or property rights. Because of the financial implications of an annulment, Alabama law restricts its availability to those situations that make it proper to invalidate a marriage, not merely to end it.
If you may be in a position to have an inappropriate marriage annulled in Alabama, you should consult a knowledgeable lawyer.
An annulment lawyer at Leigh Daniel Family Law can help you by:
- Explaining your legal rights.
- Gathering documentation of legal grounds for annulling your marriage.
- Completing and filing paperwork to obtain an annulment of your marriage.
Attorney Leigh Daniel has more than 20 years of experience handling all types of family law matters in Huntsville and throughout Northern Alabama. She and her legal team at Leigh Daniel Family Law are committed to helping couples navigate their legal issues as efficiently and amicably as possible. Our compassionate Huntsville annulment attorneys help eligible clients achieve their goals of ending marriages that should not exist so they may move forward with their lives.
What Is an Annulment of Marriage?
Annulment is a legal ruling that declares the marriage null and void and that the union was never legally valid.
A party to a marriage may seek an annulment if there are certain reasons that the marriage should never have taken place. A marriage may be annulled if the marriage was not legal from the start. But it is not enough simply to regret the decision to marry.
Marriage is a legal contract. There are financial and other implications to ending an agreement to be married, such as ensuring an equitable distribution of marital assets. A divorce order resolves these issues, either as agreed to by the couple or as ordered by the court. However, if in the eyes of Alabama law, marriage should never have occurred, it can be erased from the legal record with an annulment.
Many religions define annulment and divorce. It must be understood that a religious annulment of marriage is not legally binding. A court order is required for the legal dissolution of civil marriage in Alabama.
How to Qualify for an Annulment in Alabama
Alabama is a “no-fault” divorce state, meaning that there’s no need to show that either party has done anything wrong to obtain a divorce. But obtaining an annulment requires establishing a specific reason recognized by Alabama law for the court to issue an order invalidating a marriage.
A party seeking annulment must demonstrate that the marriage should not have taken place or that it was never legally valid.
The potential grounds for an annulment of marriage in Alabama are:
- Coercion / Duress. As with other contracts, marriage must be entered into voluntarily. If one spouse was forced or coerced into marriage by the other spouse or a third party, the court may grant an annulment. The grounds for annulment may include threats or infliction of physical or psychological abuse or other types of force.
- Fraudulent Relationship. A marriage may be annulled when one spouse has concealed some fact or lied about something considered central to the marriage. This might include one party concealing a pregnancy by someone other than their spouse, one party concealing their intention to remain celibate during the marriage or one party having only married to secure American citizenship and not to establish a life with the other.
- Concealment of Disease. Alabama courts have granted annulments in cases in which one party to the marriage knew they had an incurable sexually transmitted disease (STD) at the time of marriage and concealed it from their spouse. Annulment on these grounds is sometimes denied, but it is more likely to be granted the sooner the annulment is sought after entering the marriage.
- Concealment of Impotence. If one spouse was permanently impotent (for physical or mental reasons) at the time of the marriage and the other spouse was unaware of it when entering the marriage, an annulment may be granted. However, if the couple continued to live together once the impotence was revealed, the annulment may not be granted.
- Bigamy. Marriage to more than one person at the same time is illegal in Alabama. If one party was already married to another person when the marriage in question took place, the latter marriage is invalid. Individuals undergoing divorce may not legally remarry until the court has handed down a final divorce order.
- Incest. Marriage between close relatives as defined by state law is illegal in Alabama and should be annulled if discovered. It is considered incestuous to marry or engage in sexual intercourse with someone who is a sibling by whole or half-blood or adoption; stepchild or stepparent while the marriage creating the relationship exists; or an aunt, uncle, nephew or niece of the whole or half-blood.
- Underage Marriage. In Alabama, any marriage in which one party was under the age of 16 at the time of marriage may be annulled. Anyone between the ages of 16 and 18 must have parental consent in order to marry. If one or both parties are younger than 18 and do not have parental consent, the marriage may be annulled before that party turns 18. If a spouse was 16 when the marriage began but is well over 18 when the motion for annulment is filed, the annulment may be denied.
A court will need solid evidence demonstrating that the marriage was not valid from its start to have grounds to grant an annulment. If you cannot provide a reason for obtaining an annulment recognized by Alabama law, you will need to file a divorce petition to terminate the marriage.
How Our Huntsville Annulment Attorneys Can Help You
When you engage Leigh Daniel Family Law to help you have an invalid marriage annulled, you are gaining more than a knowledgeable legal team. You are getting a compassionate support network that is committed to your best interests.
Our dedicated Huntsville annulment lawyers will:
Discuss your case in detail with you.
We will ensure that together we understand why and how your marriage may be annulled. We will be realistic, walking you through best-case and worst-case scenarios, but our focus will always be on a positive outcome for you. Leigh Daniel Family Law offers a free 30-minute consultation with an associate attorney to evaluate your options.
Talk through the pros and cons of annulment vs. divorce.
There may be advantages financially and otherwise to divorce instead of seeking an annulment. For example, spousal support is almost never granted in an annulment. We will help you to understand your options and their potential implications.
Document your grounds for annulment and file paperwork.
People seeking annulments on their own have been known to file divorce papers instead. Having proper legal counsel protects you from such mistakes.
Make sure all the details are taken care of.
In addition to staying on top of all the paperwork and filing requirements, our experienced Huntsville annulment attorneys will ensure you have considered other important details such as name changes, changing beneficiaries on the bank, insurance, and retirement accounts, and pet custody issues.
Contact an Alabama Annulment Lawyer Today
At Leigh Daniel Family Law, our compassionate marriage annulment attorneys in Alabama will listen to your needs, determine along with you the most positive outcome for you, and work toward your goals. With more than two decades of experience, our family law attorneys offer personalized, one-on-one attention to people who turn to us for assistance. We can guide you through the Alabama family law court system.
Our responsive legal team prides itself on answering client calls and emails within 24 hours (or sooner). We encourage you to ask questions to make sure you understand how the decisions we will help you realize will affect your future.