Can I Get an Annulment in Virginia?
The simple answer is yes, but in very limited situations. In the Commonwealth of Virginia, marriage is considered a contract between two people, and with it come obligations and certain legal rights. Unlike a divorce, which is the dissolution of a valid marriage, an annulment is the end of an invalid marriage. In other words, when an annulment is granted, it is as if the marriage never existed. This rarely applies to most marriages. The court only grants an annulment when there is a legal reason why the marriage shouldn’t have existed at all, which leaves divorce as the only legal means to end most marriages.
Grounds for an annulmentUnder Virginia law, a spouse needs a legal ground to annul the marriage. The couple cannot have the marriage annulled if they have been married for at least 2 years. The following are the specific legal grounds for an annulment.
- The marriage was not properly solemnized per the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
- One spouse was a bigamist and already married at the time of the marriage, and that marriage had/has not been dissolved.
- One spouse was impotent at the time of the marriage and unable to engage in sexual relations.
- One spouse was incompetent and wasn’t mentally able to understand and consent to marriage.
- The spouses were related by blood and were closer than first cousins.
- The wife was pregnant at the time of the marriage by someone other than her husband.
- The husband fathered a child with a woman other than his wife within 10 months of the marriage.
- One spouse was under the legal age to be married in Virginia. The legal age for marriage in Virginia is 18. But marriage is legal at 16 with the consent of a parent or guardian or if the girl is pregnant. A girl 14 or older may marry to prevent a statutory rape conviction.
- One spouse committed fraud and the marriage took place because of deception. Grounds for fraud include lying about venereal disease, lying about religious beliefs, and hiding a pregnancy by another person. Lying about your age, wealth, health conditions, and prior marriages, though fraud, are not considered to be sufficient grounds for annulment.
- One spouse only entered into marriage because of duress, force, or fear of serious harm.
- One spouse was a convicted felon.
- One spouse was a prostitute without the knowledge of the other spouse.
- The marriage was a sham. The spouses married for reasons other than the normal purposes of marriage, such as to gain immigration status.