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What is an annulment and when is it appropriate?

For some people who want to end their marriage, a divorce is not enough. Your marriage might have happened in circumstances that could invalidate it, and you may believe a divorce will not do enough to disconnect you from your spouse. In this case, you may feel compelled to pursue an annulment instead. Before seeking one, though, you must understand the situations in which doing so is appropriate.

How annulment works

An annulment is different from a divorce because it treats your marriage as if it never happened. This may seem like an enticing way to end your marriage if the relationship between you and your spouse is especially bitter or chilly. Yet, you can only seek an annulment in certain situations in Kentucky. These are:

  • If the law prohibited your marriage due to incest or bigamy
  • If you or your spouse lacked the mental capacity to get married due to disability or impairment
  • If you or your spouse were unable to consummate your marriage
  • If you or your spouse were underage when you got married
  • If your marriage happened under duress or through fraudulent inducement

The timeline for an annulment

If your marriage qualifies for an annulment, you must make sure you file for one within the appropriate time frame. You will have 90 days to do so, for instance, after discovering you cannot consummate your marriage. This is also the case if you discover you or your spouse did not have the capacity to consent to your marriage. You will have one year to file for an annulment after discovering the law prohibited your marriage. And if you were part of an underage marriage, you must file for an annulment before you and your spouse cohabitate after your – or their – 18th birthday.

Annulments are uncommon, though you may be able to seek one if your marriage would not have been valid in the first place. A family law attorney can help you understand whether pursuing an annulment is possible – and appropriate – in your situation.