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How Is Annulment Different From Divorce in New York?

Divorce has become commonplace, so it’s usually well understood. A couple, or at least one person in a marriage, decides that the marriage is not working and then files paperwork to end it. But an annulment is less common, and many people are unaware of how it differs from divorce.

While a divorce ends an existing marriage, an annulment declares that a marriage was never valid — and therefore never existed in the first place. Unlike a divorce, an annulment cannot occur just because a couple wants to end their marriage. Instead, each state has its own set of reasons or conditions that must be met before a marriage can be declared void. In New York, there are certain conditions that make annulment possible:

  • Consent for the marriage was given under duress or because of coercion or fraud.
  • Mental incapacity exists, meaning that one of the spouses could not have given consent.
  • Either spouse was under the age of 18 at the time of marriage.
  • Either spouse is unable to participate in marital relations.
  • Long-term mental illness exists in either spouse.

Most of these factors can be overcome if the spouse who was not able to consent at the time of marriage later decides to continue with the marriage and the parties freely continue to live together. Certain marriages such as those involving incest or bigamy are automatically considered null, regardless of the intentions or consent of the parties involved.

Because an annulment requires proof that the marriage was never valid, this determination must be made by a judge. After an annulment, issues of child custody and child support are handled the same way they would be in a divorce.

If you are considering ending your marriage, or your spouse is trying to annul your marriage, the compassionate and experienced family law attorneys at Jakubowski, Robertson, Maffei, Goldsmith & Tartaglia can help you understand your options and alternatives. We serve clients throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties. Se habla español.

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