This question keeps coming up– as if people expect me to be able to hand them an eraser so they can just wipe away the need for an involved legal process that requires at least six months to one year of a physicial separation, depending on the jurisidiction, before they can actually file for a divorce and have the courts recognize the dissolution of their marriage.
People are stunned to learn that although it is rather easy to tie the knot, it is not that easy to get divorced. Trying to avoid the whole process by claiming there was never a valid marriage is clever– but shrewdness alone will not get you an annulment. Again, depending on the laws of each state, you often have to prove the following:
5. You got married under duress, in other words, threats were used to coerce you to enter Into marriage;
6. One party was already married, without having obtained a divorce, and therefore was ineligible to marry another.
Annulments are hard to prove, which is why so few people ever file for them. You also need to do a cost/benefit analysis– there are many emotional reasons, especially if children are involved, why someone would never cooperate with an annulment but will gladly sign a Separation Agreement and permit a party to proceed with an uncontested divorce.
We all have moments from our past that we wish we could erase, but in the legal world, we don’t take kindly to that– so go ahead and purge everything (once the legal paper work is done) that may remind you of this unfortunate part of your life, just don’t get your hopes up that the courts will help you void out a marriage so easily. We make it easy to say “I do,” but not to say, “I’m done.”
By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.