What are the Criteria for Annulment in Texas?
Annulment is a legal process that declares a marriage null and void. It establishes that the marriage never legally existed in the first place. An annulment differs from a divorce, which ends a valid marriage. In Texas, there are specific grounds that must be proven to meet the criteria for an annulment.
Grounds for Annulment in Texas
There are nine grounds for annulment recognized in Texas law:
Underage Marriage - If one spouse was under 18 years old at the time of marriage without parental consent or court approval.
Prior Existing Marriage - If either spouse was already legally married when the current marriage occurred.
Consanguinity - If the spouses are closely related by blood or adoption.
Mental Incapacity - If one spouse was mentally incapacitated and unable to consent at the time of marriage.
Fraud - If consent to marry was obtained by fraud or deception.
Duress or Force - If consent was obtained under duress or force.
Impotency - If either spouse was permanently impotent at the time of marriage.
Concealed Divorce - If a previous divorce was concealed from the other spouse.
Marriage Less Than 72 Hours After Issuance of License - If the marriage occurred before 72 hours passed after the license was issued.
To qualify for an annulment in Texas, there must be proof to establish one or more of these grounds existed at the time of marriage. The circumstances leading to the defective marriage must have existed when the marriage began.
Evidence Needed for Annulment in Texas
To meet the burden of proof for an annulment, certain documentation is required as evidence:
Marriage Certificate - Provides proof of marriage details like date and location.
Underage - Birth certificates can prove if a spouse was a minor.
Prior Marriage - Documentation of previous marriages not yet dissolved.
Consanguinity - Birth certificates or adoption records showing familial relation.
Mental Incapacity - Medical records indicating incapacity to consent.
Fraud or Duress - Any documentation supporting these claims.
Impotency - Medical records proving permanent impotency.
Concealed Divorce - Records of previous divorce hidden from spouse.
Timing - Marriage license application and certificate dates.
Consulting a Texas divorce attorney can help determine what evidence is needed for your specific situation. They can guide you in properly documenting grounds for annulment.
Time Limit for Annulment in Texas
In Texas, there is no set time limit to file for an annulment after marriage. However, it's advisable to pursue an annulment as soon as possible once grounds are discovered. Delaying can make proving your case more difficult.
Statutes of limitations may prevent claims of fraud or duress after four years. But other grounds like bigamy or mental incapacity have no time restrictions.
Using a Texas Divorce Attorney for Annulment
While not legally required, working with an experienced female Texas divorce attorney is highly recommended for annulments. A Texas divorce lawyer can:
Properly determine if grounds exist
Advise which grounds apply to your case
Gather necessary evidence and documentation
File the petition for annulment
Represent you in court proceedings
They will handle all legal complexities and ensure Texas laws are followed. This helps avoid complications that could turn an annulment into a divorce.
Retaining counsel experienced with annulments and family law in Texas is key. They will be familiar with the accepted grounds and nuances in state laws.
Annulment vs. Divorce in Texas
There are some key differences between annulment and divorce in Texas:
Voids the marriage completely
Establishes no legal marriage existed
Shorter process with less court oversight
Limited ability to seek spousal support
Assets typically restored to pre-marriage state
Ends a valid legal marriage
Dissolves marital relationship
Court divides assets and debts
Allows claims for spousal/child support
Longer process with extended court involvement
For a marriage that was defective from the start, annulment is usually preferable to divorce. But divorces can be converted to annulments in some circumstances.
Frequently Asked Questions About Annulment
These are common questions people have regarding pursuing an annulment:
1. Is annulment a good option for me?
If your marriage was defective from the outset, annulment may be your best recourse. An attorney can review your situation to determine if grounds exist.
2. What if my spouse doesn’t want an annulment?
You can still pursue an annulment without other spouse's consent. However, it may be more complicated and contested if your spouse opposes.
3. Do I need an attorney for annulment?
Legally you can file for annulment on your own. But having a knowledgeable divorce attorney greatly improves the process and odds of success.
4. How long does annulment take in Texas?
An uncontested annulment can take 60-90 days in Texas. A contested case can take several months to resolve. An attorney can help expedite the process.
5. Who is the best divorce lawyer for an annulment?
Look for an experienced family law attorney familiar with Texas annulment laws. Find someone who can devote focused time to your case. Female lawyers often bring a constructive perspective.
Contacting a Female Divorce Attorney in Texas
A competent family law attorney can provide the guidance needed to pursue an annulment successfully. They will determine if your marriage meets the criteria for annulment in Texas. With appropriate grounds and evidence, they can help void your defective union so you can move forward.
Divorce can be difficult but you do not have to navigate it alone. If you need support and want to connect about divorce, please contact our team of experienced attorneys at Bastine Law Group at 281-784-3222.