Skip a Divorce, Void the Marriage

Posted: 19 July, 2022

Divorce is messy.   You need to divide the property, the assets, and the debts.  They take time.  Annulments are simple.   You are basically voiding the marriage.   An annulment wipes a marriage off the books.

But, annulment (unlike divorce) requires a good reason for  to void the marriage. These reasons typically boil down to why the marriage should have never taken place.  If none of these reasons apply to your situation, you can still file for divorce.

An annulment invalidates a marriage in such a way that the couple was never legally married in the first place. In the eyes of the government, the marriage never happened because it could not have reasonably taken place.

Annulments are different from a divorce. The courts require specific conditions to be met in order to grant an annulment. Divorce, on the other hand, does not require any reasoning.

Grounds for Annulment in Nevada

You need to meet one of the following conditions to annul your marriage. If none of these apply to your situation, you can still file for divorce. If you aren’t sure, then file for an annulment with the option to proceed to a divorce.  If the annulment is not granted you can file for a divorce if Nevada has divorce jurisdiction.

Lack of Parental Consent for a Minor

Most states require the consent of at least one parent for someone under 18 to marry. Without parental consent, the marriage should never have taken place.

This reason for annulment comes with a stipulation. The underage person must file the paperwork for an annulment within one year of turning 18. If they continue to live as a married couple beyond age 19, then the only recourse for ending the marriage is a divorce.

One Spouse is Already Married

The law forbids marriage to multiple people. Therefore if one spouse already has a marriage on the books (even if they aren’t living as a married couple), that spouse cannot engage in another marriage.  There is no time limit on this one because the marriage could have never taken place. In order for the marriage to become valid, the married spouse will have to file for divorce, then remarry.

The Spouses are Closely Related

Nevada does not allow marriages between blood-related cousins. Marriage between second-cousins and half-blood cousins is the closest a couple can be related and legally married. This type of marriage is considered void. There is almost never issues with getting an annulment for this reason.

Fraud & Misrepresentation

Fraud is one of the trickier grounds to prove in court. You will have to prove both that the other spouse intentionally lied about something they knew was important to you. Then you’ll have to prove that whatever they lied about would have been a deal breaker, had you known the truth. Fraud is also one of those cases where if you continue to live with your spouse as a married couple after the lie is discovered, then you will have to divorce instead of annulling the marriage.

Want of Understanding 

When Hollywood produces movies about people annulling Nevada marriages, they show people meeting on the strip, getting drunk, then standing at the altar with an Elvis presiding over the marriage.

Want of understanding boils down to one spouse not being able to comprehend what they were doing when they were getting married. It could be through excessive consumption of drugs or alcohol. It could also mean the person was insane at the time of marriage. Any reason why you were not of sound mind during the wedding could fall into this category.

If  you continue to live with your spouse after regaining sanity, sobriety, or a sound state of time, then you cannot annul the marriage.

Contract Defenses

Nevada looks at marriages in the same way it looks at contracts between two people. That gives you the ability to negate that contract in the same ways as non-marriage contracts. You can cite either a unilateral mistake or a mutual mistake for an annulment through contract defense.

This reason for annulment can be used if you didn’t talk with your partner about how the marriage would work before the wedding. Something along the following lines could fall under a contract defense reason:

• One spouse wants kids, and the other doesn’t.
• Can’t agree on where to live.
• One party will abstain from sexual relations.

Contract defenses can get a little tricky to use as grounds for annulment. Make sure to speak with a divorce lawyer before filing to see what a judge may think. If your attorney is uncertain of your chances, then it may be smarter to file for an annulment where if the judge says no, then it proceeds right into a divorce.

Annulment Process

The annulment process is fairly straightforward and often much easier than a divorce. There are usually fewer hearings if there is a hearing at all.

First, you must establish that either one spouse has lived in Nevada for at least 6 weeks or that you were married in Nevada.  Next, you will need the grounds for annulment. The reasons listed above will serve, but it will still be up to the judge in many of those cases.

You will need to file the paperwork with the county court.   You can either have a divorce lawyer do it, or you can do it yourself.   Then the court will process the paperwork and you will need to serve your spouse the annulment papers.

Complications can arise if your spouse contests the annulment. It’s difficult to do that in void cases like them being married. If your grounds are a want of understanding, or fraud, you will have to prove your claims.  This can add hearings and time to the annulment process.   You might need a divorce attorney if you are filing for an annulment based on a misunderstanding or fraud.

The court will then decide whether or not to grant the annulment. If they do, then you’ll have legal documentation stating that marriage never happened. If they do not, then you will have to file for a divorce if you wish to end the marriage.

Annulment vs. Divorce

The main difference in the eyes of the law is that a marriage never existed when you annul it. A divorce ends the marriage, but it still happened.

What that means in everyday life terms is that when you annul the marriage, there are no assets to split. Each spouse owns what they brought into the marriage and what they earned through its duration. When you divorce in Nevada, you and your spouse must split all community assets equally.

Divorce typically takes longer.  Although uncontested divorces can be over in a couple weeks if both spouses agree on how to divide everything.

If you have any questions on  grounds for annulment, contact Right Lawyers today for a free consultation at (702) 914-0400.