Annulment: I thought that was only for Catholic marriages

If you are reading this blog you know that ending a marriage in Illinois is commonly done through filing for divorce. Did you also know that you could, in certain situations, seek to have a marriage annulled?

The fact that there are actually different words to describe these two legal actions should be an indicator that they actually involve two different things. Divorce is when a marriage contract that was legally entered into is dissolved for some reason.

The granting of an annulment is something more. It is a declaration by the state that the marriage wasn’t legal to begin with and shouldn’t be recognized.

In Illinois, there is only one ground for divorce — irreconcilable differences. This is no fault divorce. An annulment, though, can be based on one or more of four reasons.

If one of the spouses couldn’t consent to marry because of mental disability or impairment, or because fraud or force was used to obtain consent, an annulment might be sought.

Another thing that might prompt an annulment is if one of the parties is unable to engage in sexual intercourse. But the other spouse can’t have known that this was an issue before marrying.

If one of the spouses is younger than 18 years old and doesn’t have approval to marry from a parent, guardian or court, the marriage could be declared invalid.

Other conditions that might prompt an annulment are if the parties are closely related by blood or adoption, or if one of the parties is still married to someone else.

Now, you may be asking, “What happens to children of an annulled marriage?” The answer is that under Illinois law, nothing. They are legitimate. They have all the rights of children of marriage that end in divorce, including the right to child support from both parents and the right to inherit from either parent if one of them dies.

You need to know the law and your rights to protect yourself. When you have questions about family law, always consult experienced legal counsel.

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