While many people are knowledgeable about the process of divorce in Texas, very few understand what it means to have a marriage annulled. When can you get an annulment in Texas?
Unlike a divorce, where two spouses decide to end their marriage, an annulment in Texas declares the marriage void as though it never happened.
In essence, a divorce dissolves a valid marriage while an annulment states that the marriage was always invalid.
There are only a few circumstances where a couple can annul a marriage in Texas. However, depending on the specifics of your case, an annulment may be the best option for you.
To learn more about annulments in Texas and whether you qualify to file for an annulment in your case, call or contact an experienced family law attorney at the Law Office of Ben Carrasco in Austin today.
Grounds for Annulment in Texas
Like filing for divorce in Texas, state law requires that a spouse show grounds for filing for a Texas annulment.
However, Texas divorce laws allow no-fault grounds while Texas annulment laws do not have a no-fault option. Instead, you have to prove a specific reason that you are requesting an annulment.
A court will allow you to annul a marriage if one of the following grounds can be proven in court.
You and your spouse are related in one of the following ways:
- Ancestor and descendant, such as father and daughter or grandmother and grandson;
- Brother and sister (siblings, half-siblings, or adopted siblings); or
- Aunt or uncle and niece or nephew.
Note that cousins are not prohibited from marrying under Texas law.
Either party was married to a third party at the time of the wedding or is still married to another person.
However, if the prior marriage was discovered and ended, and the couple of the later marriage continued to reside together, then one spouse cannot later file for an annulment.
3. Underage Spouse
If one spouse was under the legal age to consent to marriage and did not receive the proper waivers by the court and parents, an annulment can be granted.
In Texas, the law requires that a spouse be eighteen years old to consent or sixteen years old with consent of the parents or a court order.
A marriage can be annulled if it can be shown that one spouse was too inebriated at the time of the marriage ceremony to consent to the wedding.
If one spouse is under the influence of either alcohol or drugs at the time of the marriage, this may be grounds for annulment.
However, if the spouses continue to reside together once the intoxicated spouse sobers up, they cannot later request an annulment.
Impotence means that one spouse is permanently unable to have intercourse.
However, an annulment will not be granted on these grounds if one spouse knew of the other’s impotence prior to the marriage or continued to live with their spouse after discovering the permanent impotence.
Fraud occurs when one spouse lied to the other or hid information that was essential to the marriage and the other spouse agreeing to marry. For instance, if a woman falsely claimed she was pregnant with a man’s child in order to get him to marry her, that might be grounds for an annulment.
However, an annulment will not be granted if the spouses continue to live together after the fraud is discovered. The fraud must also be incredibly significant in order for a court to grant an annulment on these grounds.
7. Duress or Force
An annulment is granted when one spouse proves that they were forced, coerced, or threatened in order to agree to the marriage.
Similar to fraud, a court will not grant an annulment if the spouses continue to reside together after the duress or force has passed.
8. Mental Incapacity
If one spouse was unable to agree to the marriage due to a mental incapacity, this can be grounds for an annulment. If a spouse realizes that he or she unknowingly married someone with a mental incapacity, the spouse can request an annulment.
However, if the spouses continue to live together after the spouse gains mental capacity, this invalidates the ability to get an annulment.
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How to File for an Annulment in Texas
To file for an annulment, your attorney will complete the following.
Petition the Court
The petition must be filed in the county where either you or your spouse resides in Texas.
The petition must contain a complete listing of information that includes you and your spouse’s’ names, any children, and when you stopped living with your spouse. If you have community property that must be divided, it must also be listed in your petition.
Notify Your Spouse
After you file the petition for annulment, you must notify your spouse.
This happens through a process server or sheriff serving your spouse the annulment paperwork and court summons. You should serve paperwork on your spouse as soon as possible after filing for an annulment.
If you cannot locate your spouse, your attorney can petition the court for other notice options, such as publication in a newspaper.
Go to Court
Once the petition is filed and your spouse is given notice of the proceedings, arguments will be heard on whether to grant the annulment in court.
An annulment case can either be heard in front of just a judge or a jury, although it is far more common for a judge to make a ruling on this type of case.
Complete the Decree of Annulment
If successful in your case, the court will declare your marriage void. You will complete a decree of annulment and present it to the judge for a signature.
Once the judge signs the decree of annulment, your marriage is treated legally as if it never happened.
How Long After a Marriage Can You Get an Annulment in Texas?
In most cases, you can get a marriage annulled any time both spouses are alive. However, if you want your marriage annulled for these specific reasons, time limits apply:
- If you got married within 72 hours of filing for a marriage certificate, you must file for annulment within 30 days of the marriage;
- If one spouse was under age 18 when you married, you must file for annulment before that spouse reaches age 18; and
- If you did not realize your spouse divorced within 30 days of your marriage, you can file for annulment up to the date of your first anniversary.
In most cases, you cannot live with your spouse after realizing the offensive conduct if you want to annul your marriage.
Are There Residency Requirements for an Annulment?
You must meet the residency requirements of:
- Living for at least six months in the state prior to filing, and as well as
- Living in the county of filing for ninety days prior to filing.
You must be a Texas resident to file for an annulment in Texas. If you’re not sure where to file for annulment, an experienced family attorney can point you to the right place.
Is an Annulment Harder to Get than a Divorce?
Yes, an annulment can be more challenging to obtain than a divorce because a divorce can be based on no-fault grounds.
However, some annulment grounds are easy to prove, resulting in a straightforward process that can be less complicated than a divorce.
Is an Annulment Cheaper than a Divorce?
An annulment can save you a significant amount of money, especially if you have more wealth than your spouse. Since Texas is a community property state, earnings or purchases during your marriage belong to you and your spouse.
An annulment dissolves a marriage and this right of community property, making it a financially wise move for wealthier spouses.
Speak with an Experienced Attorney Now
Filing for an annulment can be a complex process given the specific requirements to annul a marriage in Texas. For a marriage annulment, Texas divorce attorney Ben Carrasco is here to help.
Ben understands that troubled marriages can be stressful, so he communicates clearly to advise you on marital dissolution options. Once you choose a legal option, Ben strives to work efficiently and effectively on your behalf.
Call the office or contact us now to schedule a consultation of your case with our knowledgeable family law attorney today.