It may be possible to have your marriage annulled rather than get divorced under certain circumstances in Florida. An annulment means that, legally, the marriage never existed.
The availability of annulment has been instituted through Florida court decisions. Obtaining an annulment is generally more costly and complex than a divorce. But because an annulment ends the marriage with no claim by either party on the other’s assets, it is often more beneficial financially than a divorce.
If you need to end your marriage and have questions about whether annulment is an option for you, it is important that you consult an experienced annulment attorney. A skilled and compassionate divorce attorney with Florida Law Advisers, P.A., in Tampa can help you have your marriage annulled if you meet the legal requirements. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with an experienced divorce and annulment attorney in the Tampa Bay area.
Why Choose Florida Law Advisers, P.A. as Your Annulment Lawyer?
At Florida Law Advisers, P.A., we understand the delicate nature of realizing a marriage was a mistake and that it needs a quick legal remedy. Our experienced annulment attorneys recognize the need for providing compassionate support along with skilled legal assistance during an annulment. Our legal team works with each client to ensure they have a sense of what to expect. We provide our clients with the personalized attention needed to make going through the process as stress-free as possible.
Our experience allows us to craft a legal strategy that fits each client’s specific situation. We also understand that clients need solutions, not steep legal fees. That’s why our mission is to provide high-quality legal representation at a reasonable cost. We start with a free consultation to explain what we can do to assist you and what we will need from you. We offer daytime and evening appointments to accommodate your schedule. Contact us now.
Grounds for Marriage Annulment in Florida
A marriage may be void under the law, meaning it is not legally valid, or it may be “voidable,” which means it is a valid marriage, but there are grounds to declare it invalid.
In Florida, either person may pursue an annulment if their marriage is void or voidable. Even if a marriage is void, it is still advisable to obtain an annulment, which is a legal declaration invalidating the union of the two parties.
A marriage in Florida is void if:
- The marriage is bigamous, meaning one spouse is legally married to more than one person.
- The marriage is incestuous, meaning the couple is closely related by blood (brother, sister, uncle, aunt, nephew, or niece).
- The union consists of two underaged people. You must be 18 to marry in Florida or at least 16 if you have parental consent.
- Either spouse is permanently mentally incapacitated and unable to consent to marriage.
A marriage in Florida is voidable if any of the following conditions apply:
- Either spouse lacked the ability to consent to marriage. For example, one spouse may have suffered from a serious mental problem or was under the influence of intoxicating alcohol or drugs at the time of the marriage.
- One spouse is impotent, and the other spouse did not know it at the time of marriage. This is also described as a lack of physical capacity to consummate the marriage.
- One spouse used fraudulent acts or misrepresentations to trick the other spouse into entering the marriage. Not all misrepresentations will qualify. A qualifying fraud goes to the essence of the marital relationship. If a spouse married just to obtain a Permanent Resident Card for immigration purposes, for example, the marriage is voidable.
- One spouse is underage and enters the marriage without the consent of a parent or guardian. You must be 18 to marry in Florida. With parental consent, you may marry as young as 16.
- One or both spouses entered the marriage because they were under duress, which may be extreme coercion or force. It will have to be proven to a court that the duress was present at the time of marriage.
- One or both spouses entered the marriage as a joke.
None of the grounds for annulment speak to the length of the marriage. A marriage may be annulled at any point in time in Florida.
Even if there is voidable fraud in a marriage, the marriage may be ratified if the party who was defrauded learns of the fraud and consents to the sexual consummation of the marriage. Thereafter, a divorce would be required to end the marriage.
Difference Between Annulment and Divorce
An annulment declares that the parties never legally married, while a divorce is a legal dissolution of a marriage.
Florida is a no-fault divorce state. It is relatively easy to dissolve a marriage with a divorce in Florida. To obtain an annulment in Florida, you must meet specific circumstances and provide evidence that annulment is the proper action for the court to take.
A divorce decree may have strict rules and regulations that the ex-spouses must follow afterward. After an annulment, the parties walk away with no legal attachment or obligation to each other. Because the marriage was never legally valid, any prenuptial agreements are also invalid.
How To Get an Annulment in Florida
An annulment is a court order that declares the marriage officially null and void. Florida presumes that marriages are legal and valid. To obtain an annulment of marriage in Florida, you must provide clear and unequivocal proof that the marriage is void or voidable.
To initiate annulment proceedings, you must complete and file a petition with the circuit court in the county where you or your spouse reside. An individual must be 18 years old to petition for annulment. In the case of an underage spouse seeking annulment, a parent or guardian would file the petition.
In addition to explaining the valid grounds to annul the marriage, the petitioner must attest that:
- No children were born of the purported marriage.
- The petitioner is not pregnant.
- There are no marital assets or marital debts to be divided.
Once a petition for annulment is filed, a copy is served on the other spouse, who would have the right to respond and contest the annulment. The other spouse might file a counterclaim for a divorce if they have reason to do so, such as financial gains more readily available in a divorce.
Why You Need an Experienced Lawyer for an Annulment in Florida
An experienced family law attorney from Florida Law Advisers can help you complete and file a petition to have your marriage annulled, including helping you prepare proof of your grounds for annulment. It is crucial to have knowledgeable legal representation because annulment requires a steep burden of proof. Problems with an annulment may lead to burdensome financial consequences, particularly if a contesting spouse forces the action to become a divorce proceeding.
A Florida circuit court may grant temporary alimony in annulment cases but often does not. Judges may also require the spouse with greater means to help the poorer spouse pay attorneys’ fees. In a case of overt fraud, the wronged spouse could be awarded permanent alimony as well as attorneys’ fees.
In an annulment, the court does not address how the couple divides property and financial assets. Florida law automatically negates beneficiary designations on insurance, dissolves certain types of trusts, and nullifies other financial mechanisms upon an annulment. Neither party can assert property rights after the court order for annulment is handed down. If the proceeding becomes a divorce, the court will require and may dictate an equitable division of all marital assets.
If you have legitimate grounds for an annulment, we can help you avoid the potentially costly exercise of divorce and the division of assets. If obtaining an annulment is not possible, we can assist with filing for divorce to end the marriage as quickly as possible as we protect your rights and finances.