Under Florida annulment law, once people are legally married, it can only be terminated by death or court order. Once a marriage is void, the court can terminate the marriage by issuing either a dissolution of marriage (divorce) or annulment. In a divorce, the court dissolves/ends the relationship. See Florida divorce law 61.052. In contrast, an annulment voids a marriage as if it never existed.
Under Florida family law, a dissolution of marriage is granted when there are irreconcilable differences. An annulment is granted if a judge determines that there was never a valid marriage.
To be eligible for an annulment, there must be a defect in the formation of the marriage. If the union was legally created, a divorce would be required. Many divorce law attorney firms in the Tampa Bay area will offer free consultations to see if your union can be considered one of the types of voidable marriages. For general information, contact a Tampa divorce lawyer.
Under Florida law, there is no statute for officially annulling a marriage in family law. Child custody is determined by the court in the family law case. Family law cases can determine child support.
Requirements For a Valid Florida Marriage
Florida has several requirements to form a valid marriage. For instance, a couple must secure a marriage license and solemnize the union with a ceremony. The marriage license must be issued by either a Florida county court judge or clerk of the court. The marriage license will expire within 60 days unless an authorized official administrates a ceremony.
An authorized official can be an ordained minister, elder, or clergy of any religious institution. Also, the circuit court clerk or a notary of the State of Florida may formalize a marriage.
What Is An Annulment In Florida?
Decided by Florida courts, an annulment declares that the marriage never legally existed, and the parties return to pre-union status. Unlike a divorce, there is no property division or alimony in an annulment in Florida. To have a marriage annulled, it must be either void or voidable. Voidable marriages never existed in the eyes of the law. On the other hand, a voidable marriage remains in effect until it is annulled.
Under Florida law, only marriages which involve bigamy (married to more than one person), incest, or parties of the same sex are void. Conversely, a union has grounds to obtain an annulment if it was obtained by fraud, duress, or temporary insanity.
Is The Marriage Void Or Voidable?
For a marriage to be invalid, it must be void or voidable. A void marriage should never have been permitted to form under the existing law. For example, one spouse or both spouses are currently married when attempting to marry another or an underage spouse.
On the other hand, a voidable marriage had grounds to exist when the union started, but something has been learned later that should nullify the marriage. For instance, lying about a fundamental aspect of the marriage can be the basis for a voidable marriage.
How Do I Get An Annulment In Florida?
There is no specific statute that governs grounds for annulment. Judges must reference case law to determine if a voided marriage is appropriate in each case. This means that the judge will look at previous cases for guidance. If you found a prior voided marriage case with similar facts, you can use that to sway the judge to get an annulment.
Either spouse may be permitted to file for annulment. In some instances, an annulment case may even be filed after the parties are deceased. However, if the relationship is only voidable, at least one spouse must be alive and a party to the case. See case Arnelle v. Fisher.
Alimony In a Florida Annulment
If an annulment is granted, the law will treat the relationship as if there was never a marriage. Therefore, there will be no marital assets or property to divide in a voided marriage. Instead, the parties leave with the property they began the relationship with. Usually, alimony is also not granted in Florida voided marriage cases.
In certain circumstances, alimony can be awarded in an annulment between one or both spouses. In Kindle v. Kindle, the court awarded one spouse permanent alimony with the annulment. The judge felt one spouse was an innocent victim, and to deny alimony after a twenty-year marriage would be unjust.
Annulment Based On Duress
Duress can be used as a legal means to annul a marriage. If the petitioner entered into marriage solely because of duress, they might have grounds for an annulment. Duress is a degree of pressure that is so strong it deprives the victim of the capacity to refuse the union. See Florida Supreme Court case, Beeks v. Beeks. The duress must be shown with clear and convincing evidence.
Accepting benefits of marriage, such as cohabitation or consummation after the duress has ceased, may ratify the marriage. If the union has been ratified, it may not be eligible for an annulment in Florida. Instead, the parties may need to file for a dissolution of marriage.
Annulment Case For Fraud
Fraud can occur if there is an intentional misrepresentation of fact, knowing that the other spouse would rely on it. The victim must also have relied on the misrepresentation when consenting to the marriage.
For instance, entering into a union with no intention of living as husband and wife can be considered fraudulent. On the other hand, failing to follow through with a spouse-entered agreement is not fraud unless the promisor had no intention of fulfilling the promise when it was made.
For voided marriage cases involving fraud, time is of the essence. The party seeking the annulment must do so within a reasonable time after discovering the fraud. If too much time passes, a dissolution of the relationship may be required. The amount of time will vary based on the circumstances of each case.
Requirements For Divorce In Florida
Florida is a no-fault divorce state. Therefore, you don’t need to prove adultery, mental incapacity, what the spouse lacked, or several grounds for the relationship to end. All Florida divorce law requires is there be irreconcilable differences.
A divorce is more common because an annulment can only be granted in limited circumstances. Conversely, an annulment has a much higher burden of proof. Plus, the party seeking to void the marriage has the burden of proving the grounds for the annulment. In cases such as these, hiring an experienced divorce law firm in Tampa is essential.
Consult a 5-Star Annulment Law Firm In Tampa Bay
If you need assistance with the annulment process in Florida, contact Florida Law Attorney Advisers, P.A. to speak with an attorney. We can review the specifics of your case and provide the legal advice you need to make an informed decision. We can draft all the paperwork and expedite the case through Florida’s circuit courts if there are grounds for an annulment.
If obtaining an annulment is not possible, we can assist with filing for divorce to end the marriage as quickly as possible. The initial consultation can be done over the phone and is considered private under an attorney-client relationship, even if you don’t retain us. To speak with an experienced lawyer at our firm, call us at (800) 990 7763 for a free consultation.