A divorce in Florida is formally known as a dissolution of marriage. In Florida, a dissolution of marriage is granted when there are irreconcilable differences. See Florida divorce law 61.052. An annulment, however, is granted if a judge determines that there was never a valid marriage in the first place. The purpose of this article is to help answer the question, how to get an annulment in Florida. This article is intended to be general in nature and not legal advice. If you need help with obtaining an annulment in Florida contact a divorce attorney in your area.
Is the Marriage Void or Voidable
For a marriage to be invalid it must be either void or voidable. A void marriage is one that should never have been permitted to form under the existing law. An example of a void marriage is one based on bigamy, with one or both spouses already married to another when attempting to marry each other.
A voidable marriage is one that had grounds to exist when the marriage started, but something has been learned later that should nullify the marriage. An example of a voidable marriage is where one spouse lied about a fundamental aspect of the marriage in which the other spouse married them relying on that fundamental aspect. Either a void or voidable marriage must be shown to have existed to be granted an annulment.
For more information about a whether or not a specific set of circumstances may qualify for an annulment in Florida contact a divorce attorney. Many divorce law firms in Tampa will offer a free initial consultation for these types of situations.
How to Get an Annulment in Florida
Either spouse may be permitted to file for an annulment in Florida. Under a voidable marriage, the one petitioning for the annulment must be a party to the marriage. However, only one spouse needs to petition for the annulment. A void marriage can be petitioned for an annulment even after both of the parties are deceased. However, a voidable marriage must be petitioned by one of the parties to the marriage before the death of either party. See Florida annulment case Arnelle v. Fisher
There is no specific statute that governs annulments in Florida. Therefore, judges must reference existing case law to determine if an annulment is appropriate in each case. This means that the judge will look at previous cases and determine if the facts in the current case are similar to previous cases and the outcome in those cases.
Potential grounds for an annulment can include: lacking the required mental state upon the formation of the marriage, fraud going towards the essence of the marriage, duress, bigamy, one or both parties being below the age of majority, and the parties being too closely related to one another.
How to Get an Annulment in Florida with Alimony
If an annulment is granted then it resolves the marriage as if it never happened. There is no need for the process of divorce or dividing of marital assets because there was no valid marriage and no marital assets because there was no valid marriage. Alimony is generally not granted upon an annulment, but under the correct circumstances an award of alimony is possible.
An example of circumstances in which this happens is in the case Kindle v. Kindle, in which the husband was still married when he attempted to marry the “wife”. The “wife” did not know about the previous marriage was valid and was thus an innocent victim and to deny her alimony after a twenty (20) year marriage would be unjust. The court granted permanent alimony to the wife and granted an annulment because the marriage was never valid. Please note, this is not a routine case, permanent alimony for annulments are rare. For information about alimony in annulments please contact a divorce attorney.
Divorce Law Firm in Tampa
If you need assistance on how to get an annulment in Florida contact Florida Law Advisers, P.A. to speak with a Tampa divorce lawyer. We can review the specifics of your case and provide the legal advice you need to make an informed decision. If there are grounds for an annulment we can draft the paperwork and navigate the petition through the court system. Contact us today by phone, email, or live web chat to speak with a divorce lawyer at our firm.