When most people hear of a couple ending their marriage, they automatically assume that the couple is divorcing. For thousands of couples, that is true, however, there are also many couples who choose to file for a legal annulment rather than a divorce. What is the difference? When a person files for a divorce, they are requesting that the court declares an end to their valid marriage. When someone files for an annulment, they are requesting that the court declare the marriage was never valid and therefore, does not exist.
The state of Illinois has stringent criteria which must be met in order to obtain a legal annulment. Annulments fall under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act statute. Under the law, there are four reasons in which a person can file a motion for an annulment. Those reasons are:
- One spouse lacked the mental ability to consent to the marriage. This could be because of mental disability, being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or were under some sort of duress or forced to consent;
- Impotence is another reason a person can file for an annulment. If one spouse is unable to consummate the marriage and the other spouse did not know, this is considered grounds;
- A marriage can be declared invalid if one spouse was under the age of 18 at the marriage and neither the spouse’s parents or the courts granted permission; and
- The fourth reason to declare a marriage invalid is that it is considered illegal because one or both of the spouses were legally married to someone else at the time the marriage took place. A marriage is also considered illegal if the spouses are closely related by blood or adoption.
There are also stringent time periods in which a person is allowed to file for an annulment.
If the annulment is being filed on the grounds of lack of mental ability, then the person only has 90 days from the day the disability was discovered to file.
If the grounds for annulment are because of impotence, then the time limit is one year from the time the spouse learned of the issue.
If a spouse was under legal age when married, then the motion to annul must be filed before the spouse reaches the age of 18, which is the legal age of consent in the state of Illinois.
There is no limit on the time a person can file for an annulment if they find out their marriage is an illegal one.
If you are considering filing for an annulment, or any other legal action to end your marriage, contact an experienced DuPage County divorce attorney. Call Mulyk Laho Law, LLC today at (630) 852-1100 for a free consultation.