Long Island Annulment Attorneys

Void and Voidable Marriages

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Petroske Riezenman & Meyers

Getting an Annulment

In New York, the only way to have a marriage declared void– that is, to say it never existed– is to show that one of the parties committed bigamy. If one of the spouses was already married to another person at the time of the marriage ceremony, then that second marriage was invalid from the start, and either party (or the first spouse of the bigamous party) may obtain a Judgment declaring the marriage null and void.

In other situations, a marriage may be “voidable.” This is where an annulment may be appropriate. A voidable marriage is a valid marriage unless and until an annulment is granted. However, not every couple is eligible to get their marriage annulled. Here, our Long Island annulment lawyer explains what you need to prove to get an annulment, and how to decide if an annulment is the best option in your case.

What are the Grounds for Annulment in New York?

Under New York state law (DRL § 140), you must meet one of several criteria to obtain an annulment. While New York allows couples to seek a ‘no-fault’ divorce on the grounds that they have irreconcilable differences, couples can only obtain an annulment if they meet certain grounds. More specifically, to get your marriage annulled on Long Island, you must be able to prove one of the following:

  1. At least one partner was under the age of legal consent (eighteen years) at the time of the marriage. In this case, either the minor or a parent/guardian of the minor can seek annulment of the marriage, unless the parties cohabit as spouses after both have reached the age of consent. Then, the marriage is no longer voidable.
  2. If one spouse was mentally incapable of providing consent to the marriage, any relative of the incapacitated person may seek an annulment. The other spouse may also file for an annulment, but only if they can prove they did not know of the mental incapacity at the time of the marriage.
  3. If one of the spouses is physically incapable of having sex, such incapacity is incurable, and the marriage is shorter than five years, the injured party may seek an annulment. The incapable spouse may also file for annulment if they were unaware of their incapacity at the time of the marriage, or did not know it was incurable.
  4. If one party’s consent to the marriage was obtained by force, duress, or fraud, the wronged party may seek an annulment. However, a claim based on fraud must be filed within a certain time frame.
  5. If either party is incurably mentally ill for five of more years during the marriage, either party may seek an annulment.

If you are considering getting an annulment, but you are not sure that you are eligible, you should speak to an experienced Long Island divorce attorney. A lawyer will be able to conduct a comprehensive review of your case.

I Am Eligible for an Annulment: Is it Actually the Best Option?

In practice, annulments are rare, in part because of the grounds required, but also because the
law which governs how property is divided and debts are allocated, known as the Equitable Distribution Law, is applied the same whether you file for an annulment or a divorce. Therefore, many people find it easier to file a no-fault divorce case rather than an annulment.

That being said, if you have valid grounds for an annulment, it is your right to pursue it. This may be important to you on a personal level, especially if you were the victim of fraud, force or duress in your relationship. It is important to know, however, that a legal annulment is completely separate from a religious annulment.

Ultimately, these issues all must be assessed on a case-by-case basis. If you are weighing getting an annulment versus getting a divorce, you should seek guidance from a skilled Long Island annulment lawyer who can help you take the best action to protect your legal rights and financial interests.

Speak to a Long Island Annulment Lawyer Today

At Petroske Riezenman & Meyers, P.C., we offer our clients the personalized attention that they deserve. If you are considering getting an annulment in New York, our legal team can help. For a free, fully private initial consultation, please do not hesitate to contact our legal team. With an office in Hauppauge, NY, we serve communities throughout Long Island.