Can you annul a marriage you see as a mistake?

At one time or another, virtually everyone has experienced buyer’s remorse. While you may regret purchasing a coffeemaker, car or even a house, marrying the wrong person may force you to potentially face a lifetime of unhappiness. Fortunately, in some circumstances, it is possible to pursue an annulment.

An annulment is different from a divorce. With an annulment, a court determines your marriage was never legally valid and therefore never really existed. In the Keystone State, an annulment is possible when marriages are void and voidable.

What marriages are void?

In Pennsylvania law, a marriage is void when it violates the law. By definition, the following marriages are void:

  • Marriages where one or both parties cannot consent because of incompetence or mental incapacity
  • Marriages where one or both parties are under 18
  • Marriages where the parties are close blood relatives
  • Marriages that involve bigamy or polygamy

Because void marriages are automatically illegal, those in them typically do not have to pursue an annulment.

What marriages are voidable?

Voidable marriages are those that appear to be legally valid but have some inherent defect that makes them invalid. Pennsylvania law considers the following types of marriages to be voidable:

  • Marriages that happen because of fraud, coercion or duress
  • Marriages where one or both parties cannot consummate
  • Marriages where one or both parties are minors without parental consent

If you are in a voidable marriage, you must ask a court for an annulment. That is, your marriage is probably not automatically invalid like it would be with a void marriage.

While buyer’s remorse is not grounds for an annulment in Pennsylvania, your regret may be due to being in a void or voidable marriage. Ultimately, if your marriage qualifies for an annulment, you may need to act quickly to avoid losing your opportunity to pursue one.


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