New York Family Lawyer Helps Couples Annul Their Marriages
Syracuse attorney works to revoke unions that were not legally valid
Though most marriages end in the death of one spouse or divorce, there is a third option that is often overlooked. Through a civil annulment, New Yorkers can petition for a court order that rules their marriage was never legally valid in the first place. At Bombardo Law Office, P.C. in Syracuse, I am a Central New York family law attorney with 27 years of experience providing personalized counsel to area residents. If you are considering annulling your marriage, my firm can advise you regarding whether the circumstances in your case would support an annulment request under state law. Should you qualify, I will prepare the necessary documents and represent you before the court.
What is an annulment?
Some people misunderstand civil annulment, believing it is a method of avoiding divorce for people looking to end a short marriage. However, annulment is a court order that determines that the marriage never legally existed in the first place. This is in contrast to a divorce, which merely ends the legal union and treats the spouses as having been married up to the point that the marriage was dissolved.
Getting your marriage annulled, rather than divorcing your partner, can be a good option if you want to move on with your life without having to deal with the social stigma of having divorced your spouse, or if you are so uncomfortable with your current living situation that you want to treat it as if it never happened. You may have religious beliefs against divorce as well. As an experienced and dedicated family lawyer, I will make sure that you fully understand your options and whether you qualify for an annulment.
Grounds for annulment
There are only a handful of grounds for annulment in our state, and they are radically different from the grounds that can be used in divorce cases. While the grounds for divorce typically concern conduct that occurred during the marriage, the following five justifications for an annulment relate to whether the marriage was legal at the time it was commenced:
- Lack of sufficient age to marry — An annulment can be granted if one or both parties were underage at the time of the wedding. In New York, both spouses have to be at least 18 years old in order to have the legal ability to marry. However, even if one of the spouses was underage at the time of the marriage, if both spouses continued to live together of their own accord after each turned 18, then this ground for an annulment is waived.
- Mental incapacity to marry — New York law does not allow people who are mentally incompetent to bind themselves to a contract. This applies to family law by making any marriage voidable if one of the spouses lacked the mental capacity to agree to the marriage.
- Incurable mental illness — If one spouse in a marriage has been deemed incurably mentally ill for a period of more than five years, their spouse may file for a civil annulment.
- Impotence — A marriage can also be annulled if one of the spouses is found, during the marriage, to be physically unable to have sexual intercourse. This ground for annulment is an old one and is based on the idea that marriage is, at its core, a device for a man and a woman to have children. However, like many old ideas, it still persists in our laws, allowing one spouse to annul a marriage if it is found that they or their spouse is unable to have intercourse.
- Fraud, duress or coercion — The last ground for the annulment of a marriage in New York is that the marriage was the result of fraud, duress or coercion. Marriages have to be consensual for them to be legally binding. If a marital union is not freely entered into by both parties, then it can be annulled if one party petitions the court. However, duress is not a valid ground for an annulment if the parties voluntarily lived together before the marriage occurred, as this is a telltale sign that the spouse seeking an annulment wanted to have an intimate relationship with the other spouse. Additionally, fraud is not a ground for an annulment if both spouses continued to voluntarily live together after the fraud was discovered.
After taking the time to learn about your situation, I will advise you as to whether you are eligible to obtain an annulment under one of these five grounds.
Contact a New York family lawyer for a consultation regarding civil annulment
If you are considering an annulment of your marriage, Bombardo Law Office, P.C. in Syracuse can explain the legal process and eligibility requirements. Please call 315-800-4002 or contact me online for a free legal consultation.