There are two types of annulments. The first is based on the civil law in the State of Florida. The other is a religious concept associated with the Catholic church.
The concepts are similar, but the process for obtaining an annulment is very different depending on the type of annulment you want. In either type, however, you are asking someone (either the Church or the State) to declare that your marriage was not binding, either from a legal perspective or a religious viewpoint.
This article focuses on the legal requirements that you must meet to obtain an annulment through the State of Florida. Resources available from your church will be able to help you decide whether you meet the requirements for a religious annulment.
What is an Annulment?
A divorce and an annulment are similar in that they both end a marriage. However, in a divorce, you recognize that the marriage was valid in the first place. In an annulment, you are stating that the marriage was not valid when you entered into it for one reason or another. A marriage that is annulled is declared to have never existed in the first place.
Florida law is somewhat unique in this area of the law because it does not have annulment requirements set out in statutes. Instead, annulment requirements have been developed through case law in the Florida courts over time. This makes getting an annulment somewhat harder than in other states, but it is certainly possible.
Grounds for Annulment in Florida
There are several reasons that an annulment may be appropriate and available in Florida. The following is a listing of several situations where a court would likely grant an annulment.
- The marriage is bigamous (where the spouse is married to more than one person)
- The marriage is technically considered incestuous (where the couple is related by blood or through marriage)
- One or both of the spouses was underage at the time of the marriage
- One spouse is mentally incapacitated and is unable to consent to be married
- One spouse used fraud or deceit to trick the other into marrying him or her
- One spouse was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the ceremony
- One spouse was suffering a temporary but severe mental impairment at the wedding
- One or both of the spouses entered the marriage because they were forced or coerced
- One or both of the spouses entered the marriage as a “joke” or had no intention to be legally married
- One spouse is impotent, and the other spouse did not know at the time of the marriage (commonly referred to as being unable to consummate the marriage)
The Annulment Process
You must get a court order that will officially annul your marriage. Even where the marriage is technically against the law, such as in a bigamous or incestuous marriage, it is still a good idea to go through the annulment process.
The circuit courts in Florida will be able to annul your marriage if you have sufficient grounds. You will need to file a petition, similar to a divorce petition, to get the process started. A family law attorney in Florida can help you with this process. Call 813-280-5301 for more information.