Annulment of Marriage in Florida
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A legal annulment is a declaration that a marriage is void due to a defect at the time of creation. Legal Florida annulments are much rarer than Florida divorces and only certain specific grounds for annulment are valid. Grounds for annulment in Florida have never been codified.
In general, a marriage may be considered “void from the start” or “voidable.”
A void marriage is not a marriage. It is void at creation, as if it has not occurred. A marriage is void if there is bigamy, mental incapacity, or there is consanguinity between the parties (incest). These defects are not waivable and may be claimed by any party, even outsiders of the marriage, at any time.
A marriage is voidable if a defect exists at both time of marriage and time of voiding, if there was duress or coercion, fraud, intoxication, insanity, lack of intent, a sham to obtain citizenship, a party was under the age of consent or incurable physical impotence.
Voidable grounds are waived if you continue to cohabit after the impediment is removed.
A fraud means a misrepresentation that goes to an essential aspect of the marriage and commonly includes lying about religion, procreation, or sex. Money, property, or social status are not grounds for fraud and an annulment.
A spouse can contest an annulment. Affirmative defenses to annulment are recrimination (both parties can annul), waiver, and laches (prejudicial delay).
Generally, a party cannot get alimony after an annulment, because a decree of annulment means that in the eyes of the state of Florida the couple was never married.
It is also important to distinguish between a Florida state legal annulment, which can be only granted by a Florida state court, and religious annulment, which can only be granted by a religious body. Annulment as a religious event is not recognized by the state. The state only recognizes a court’s order of annulment; a religious annulment does not affect a marriage legally in the view of the state.
Legal annulment differs from divorce in that an annulment invalidates a marriage as if it never happened, while a divorce acknowledges the existence of the marriage as it is dissolved by the court while providing a legal mechanism for division of property, alimony, child custody (time sharing), child support, and other related issues.
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