Annulments are available in very limited situations in Virginia. Marriage is a contract between two people, and it comes with certain rights and obligations that are ordinarily only terminated with a divorce. A divorce, in addition to dissolving a marriage, can carry with it other economic requirements for support and division of assets. An annulment on the other hand, dissolves the marriage without any other economic remedies. Annulments are designed to terminate marriages that were invalid, or voidable, from their inception.
A marriage may either be void or voidable. A void marriage does not require any procedure in order to terminate it, it was invalid from the beginning. A voidable marriage requires the filing of an annulment and a hearing in order to be dissolved. Virginia Code Section 20-89.1 provides the following grounds for an annulment in Virginia:
If there are no grounds for an annulment, the parties will have to petition for a divorce in order to terminate the marriage. Even if one party thinks they have grounds for an annulment, there is no guarantee that a judge will agree and grant one. It is best to consult with a family law attorney to understand the grounds, process, and if this is the best way for you to proceed given your specific situation.
The difference between divorce and annulment
There are several differences and implications to annulling your marriage versus a divorce. Unlike a divorce, the judge has no authority to make decisions about the division of marital property, assets, debts, or to order spousal support in an annulment. But, the court still has jurisdiction over child custody, visitation, and support. Children from annulled marriages are considered legitimate, and like in a divorce, must be financially supported by both their parents.
Even in the 21stcentury, when divorce no longer carries the stigma it once did, an annulment can be preferable for religious or other personal reasons. In some cases, an annulment is preferable for financial reasons where a client wants to protect their assets from division.
Melone Hatley is a general practice law firm and serves Virginia Beach and the Northern Virginia area. Our practice areas include Family Law, Divorce and Special Needs Children, Traffic Ticket Defense, DUI/DWI Defense, and Trust and Estate Law. Our philosophy is to provide all of our clients with the highest quality legal representation, innovative legal solutions, and unsurpassed dedication to customer service. Through our high standards, we strive to be a trusted resource to our clients.
We know from experience that a successful attorney-client relationship depends on our ability to understand your needs and objectives. For more information about annulment and divorce, contact our office today at 703.995.9900 in Northern Virginia or 757.296.0580 in Virginia Beach,or visit our website: www.MeloneLawPC.com.