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Tampa Annulment Attorneys – Annulment Vs. Divorce

What is an annulment?

Annulment of a marriage is based on a legal impediment to the marriage that makes the marriage void or voidable. A void marriage is invalid at its inception and confers no rights or obligations. A voidable marriage can be ratified by the parties and is valid for all purposes until terminated by a judgment. Contact our Tampa annulment attorneys for specific questions or situations.

Difference between Divorce and Annulment

An action for the annulment of a marriage differs from a dissolution of marriage proceeding in that the latter is instituted to sever a marriage relation admitted to exist, while an annulment proceeding is for the purpose of declaring judicially that because of some disability that existed at the time of the marriage ceremony a valid marriage did not take place.

An invalid marriage may be either wholly void or merely voidable, depending on the nature of its invalidity. For example, a marriage based on fraud is voidable, as is a marriage based on duress; although a bigamous marriage is void. A marriage may be annulled for any cause that has prevented the parties from contracting a valid marriage, but a marriage that is validly contracted should not be dissolved other than by divorce, or by decree of annulment supported by allegations and proof of recognized grounds for annulment. FLJUR FAMLAW § 483

Procedure of Annulments

An annulment follows the same procedure as other actions governed by the Family Law Rules. The grounds for the action, defenses and property rights are governed by substantive law. The petition must show the purported marriage and the grounds for its invalidity. Corroboration of the grounds is required at trial.(See effect of default below) Temporary relief may be available. The judgment annuls the marriage and settles any property or minor children issues. Mandatory discovery applies. Trawick, Fla. Prac. & Proc. § 30:10 (2007-2008 Ed.)

Effect of Defaults

If other party defaults and does not respond to the Petition, it is impossible to get annulment:

We hold that no decree for annulment of marriage may be granted upon the mere uncorroborated testimony of one of the parties to the action. This rule may not be modified when the defendant does not defend. Keezer on Marriage and Divorce, Third Edition, section 233, p. 292; 55 C.J.S. Marriage § 58c, p. 940, and 35 Am.Jur., Marriage, section 130, p. 259. The *578 state having a vital interest in the marriage relation, the ‘conscience of the court’ should be assured that testimony given will not operate to destroy the marriage through collusion, fraud, or coercion. The prime object of the corroboration doctrine is to prevent collusion and to forestall any attempt which might otherwise be made to destroy the marital relationship falsely. Pickston v. Dougherty,109 So.2d 577, Fla.App. 1959

Grounds for an Annulment

In 10 Fla.Jur., Divorce, Separation and Annulment, s 308, it is stated:

‘A marriage may be annulled for any cause which has prevented the parties from contracting a valid marriage. The invalidity of a marriage may arise from (1) a want of legal capacity to contract, or a statutory prohibition against the type of marriage in question, (2) a want of mental capacity to contract, (3) a lack of actual consent to the contract, (4) a consent wrongfully procured by force, duress, fraud, or concealment, and (5) a lack of physical capacity to consummate. Sack v. Sack, 184 So.2d 434, Fla.App. 1966.

Among the grounds for annulment are:

1) an undissolved prior marriage,
2) an incestuous relationship,
3) underage,
4) intoxication,
5) mental incompetency,
6) physical incapacity,
7) lack of consent,
8) fraud,
9) duress

Defenses to Annulments

The only defense to an annulment is ratification, laches, and res judicata.

A party seeking to resist the annulment of a marriage can contend that the marriage is valid since it was ratified after knowledge of the alleged defect. A voidable marriage, such as a marriage based on fraud, can be validated by the innocent party, if on learning the true facts, the party continues cohabitation and otherwise ratifies the marriage. Similarly, a voidable marriage entered into while one of the parties was intoxicated can also be affirmed or ratified.

A marriage that is void, such as a bigamous marriage, cannot be affirmed or ratified.5A Fla. Pl. & Pr. Forms § 44:327

Property, Alimony, and Children

In an action for an annulment, the court may dispose of property jointly owned by the parties. If there was no valid marriage, no estate by the entirety is created and the parties should be considered as tenants in common.

Although generally permanent alimony is not awarded where the marriage of the parties is annulled, in cases in which a spouse is an innocent victim of the other spouse’s wrong, a court may allow permanent alimony and attorney’s fees in order to do equity.

A court has the power in an annulment proceeding to dispose of matters relating to the custody and maintenance of the children of the parties.

Contact Our Tampa Annulment Attorneys

If you have questions regarding annulment versus divorce contact us by e-mail or call 813-321-3421 to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case.  We have a team of committed, experienced and responsive Tampa annulment attorneys and legal staff to assist you.

All Family Law Group, P.A.
The law firm of All Family Law Group (Lynette Silon-Laguna, P.A.) provides legal services to the cities of Tampa, Clearwater, Brandon, Riverview, Lakeland, Valrico, Gibsonton, Lithia, Mango, Palm River, Plant City, Seffner, Sun City Center, Apollo Beach, Ruskin, Temple Terrace, Carrollwood, Thonotosassa, Lutz, FishHawk, MacDill Air Force Base, and all of Hillsborough, Pinellas & Polk Counties.

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