Annulment or divorce — which is right for me?

Getting married is supposed to be a joyous thing. Yours may have started out that way, but now you are ready to get out of your marriage and move on with your life. How should you go about doing it? Which marriage dissolution method is right for you?

In Pennsylvania, there are various ways to dissolve a marriage — traditional divorce, mediation and filing an uncontested divorce, to name a few. There are some individuals who want to go beyond just dissolving the relationship, though. They want to make it so, under the law, it never existed. If you find yourself in such a position, under the right circumstances, the annulment process may be for you.

What is an annulment and who qualifies for one?

An annulment is the invalidation of a marriage that was invalid from the get go. This is not for couples who simply have a falling out and want to end their unions. There are specific grounds for annulment. In Pennsylvania, these grounds include:

  • Lack of consent
  • Bigamy
  • Fraud
  • Incapacity
  • Unions between relatives
  • Coercion

An example of lack of consent would be getting married when underage. Being underage means you lacked the true ability to consent to the marriage and would give you grounds to seek an annulment. An example of bigamy would be finding out your spouse is already married to someone else. If you found out your spouse was already married when your marriage occurred, this would be grounds to have your marriage invalidated as he or she was not legally free to get married to you.

Finally, one last example is for getting married while under the influence. If you, while under the influence of alcohol, married your spouse on a whim, you may be able to seek an annulment as you were not in your right state of mind to make such an important decision. Obviously, there are many more scenarios in which an annulment would be appropriate, but hopefully these few will give you the basic gist of when it is the right move.

Not sure what to do?

If you are not sure if annulment is right for you, it is okay to ask questions. Legal counsel will have the ability to review your case and help you find the best way to get out of your marriage.


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