Posted by Michelle May O’Neil on June 27, 2011

Although annulment is not as popular an option as it once was for ending a marriage, there are still times that we have people inquire as to whether they can annul their marriage.  In our book, Basics of Texas Divorce Law, we briefly cover the topic of annulment.  The excerpt below is helpful information to those curious about annulment.

Annulment

     A suit for annulment, as apposed to a suit for divorce, is brought when there has been some legal impediment to the creation of a valid marriage; that is, the suit is for premarital causes rather than conduct that occurred during the marriage (as in a divorce).  Annulments have declined in popularity because in 1970 the Texas Legislature adopted no-fault grounds for divorce which made getting a divorce far easier.  Today many people pursue annulments for religious reasons.

     There are four general grounds under which an annulment is possible. 

     1.  A court can annul a marriage if a party to the marriage was at least 16 years of age, but less than 18 years of age, at the time of marriage and did not have parental consent or court-ordered permission to marry.  Note, however, that an annulment under this ground is discretionary and the court must consider facts relevant to the welfare of the parties to the marriage (for example, whether the wife is pregnant).

     2.  A court can also annul a marriage if at the time of the marriage the person seeking the annulment was under the influence of drugs and/ or alcohol and as a result lacked the capacity to consent to the marriage.  Also, the person seeking annulment cannot have voluntarily continued to live with the other party since the effects of the drugs/ alcohol ended.  Note that we’re not talking about a simple case of having a few drinks and then getting hitched.  Texas courts have held that the degree of intoxication must be so great as to have "dethroned reason, memory and judgment."

     3.  Another ground for annulment is impotency.  A court can annul a marriage if either party was permanently impotent at the time of marriage and the person seeking annulment did not know of the impotency at the time of marriage.  Also, the person seeking annulment cannot have continued to voluntarily live with the other person once they learned of the impotency.

     4.  Fraud, duress and force are additional grounds for annulment.  A court can annul a marriage if one party used fraud, duress or force to induce the person seeking annulment into the marriage.  Just like the other grounds for annulment, the person seeking annulment cannot have voluntarily continued to live with the other party since learning of the fraud or being freed from the duress or force.

     These are the grounds most people think of when considering an annulment.  Once an annulment is granted, the marriage will be considered void and treated as if it never happened.  If an annulment is not granted, then the marriage will be considered valid indefinitely and the parties must seek a divorce to end it.

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Photo of Michelle O'Neil Michelle O'Neil

Michelle May O’Neil has 27 years’ experience representing small business owners, professionals, and individuals in litigation related to family law matters such as divorce, child custody, and complex property division. Described by one lawyer as “a lethal combination of sweet-and-salty”, Ms. O’Neil exudes…

Michelle May O’Neil has 27 years’ experience representing small business owners, professionals, and individuals in litigation related to family law matters such as divorce, child custody, and complex property division. Described by one lawyer as “a lethal combination of sweet-and-salty”, Ms. O’Neil exudes genuine compassion for her client’s difficulties, yet she can be relentless when in pursuit of a client’s goals. One judge said of Ms. O’Neil, “She cannot be out-gunned, out-briefed, or out-lawyered!”

Family Law Specialist

Ms. O’Neil became a board-certified family law specialist by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in 1997 and has maintained her certification since that time. While representing clients in litigation before the trial court is an important part of her practice, Ms. O’Neil also handles appellate matters in the trial court, courts of appeals and Texas Supreme Court. Lawyers frequently consult with Ms. O’Neil on their litigation cases about specialized legal issues requiring particularized attention both at the trial court and appellate levels. This gives her a unique perspective and depth of perception that benefits both her litigation and appellate clients.

Top Lawyers in Texas and America

Ms. O’Neil has been named to the list of Texas SuperLawyers for many years, 2011-2018, a peer-voted honor given to only about 5% of the lawyers in the state of Texas. In 2014-2018, Ms. O’Neil received the special honor of being named by Texas SuperLawyers as one of the Top 50 Women Lawyers in Texas, Top 100 Lawyers in Texas, and Top 100 Lawyers in DFW. She was named one of the Best Lawyers in America for 2016 and received an “A-V” peer review rating by Martindale-Hubbell Legal Directories for the highest quality legal ability and ethical standards.

Author and Speaker

A noted author, Ms. O’Neil released her second book Basics of Texas Divorce Law in November 2010, with a second edition released in 2013, and a third edition expected in 2015.  Her first book, All About Texas Law and Kids, was published in September 2009 by Texas Lawyer Press. In 2012, Ms. O’Neil co-authored the booklets What You Need To Know About Common Law Marriage In Texas and Social Study Evaluations.  The State Bar of Texas and other providers of continuing education for attorneys frequently enlist Ms. O’Neil to provide instruction to attorneys on topics of her expertise in the family law arena.