How Annulment In New York Works

by ECL Writer
Proving Adultery in New York

An annulment in New York is a legal process that declares a marriage to be null and void as if it never occurred. This is different from a divorce, which ends a valid marriage. Grounds for annulment in New York include fraud, duress, impotence, and incest. To obtain an annulment, one of the parties must file a petition with the court and prove one of the grounds for annulment. The process for obtaining an annulment in New York can be complex and in this article, Eastcoastlaws.com will outline all you need to know about Annulment in New York State.

Note: This article focuses more on civil annulments, not religious annulments

What is Religious Annulments

Religious annulment, also known as a “decree of nullity” or “ecclesiastical annulment,” is a process within the Catholic Church that declares that a sacramental marriage was not valid in the eyes of the Church. This is different from a civil annulment, which is a legal process that declares a marriage to be null and void.

A religious annulment is granted by a Church tribunal, which is a Church court that specializes in marriage cases. The tribunal will investigate the circumstances of the marriage and determine if there were any defects in the consent given by the parties, such as psychological immaturity, duress, or lack of knowledge about the sacrament of marriage. If a defect is found, the tribunal will declare the marriage to be null and void.

Also, note that a religious annulment does not affect the legal status of a marriage, and a divorced person remains married in the eyes of the state. However, after a religious annulment, the parties are free to marry in the Catholic Church. It’s also worth noting that different religions have different approaches to the annulment process.

What is Civil Annulments

A civil annulment, also known as a “judicial annulment,” is a legal process that declares a marriage to be null and void. This means that the marriage is treated as if it never occurred. Unlike a divorce, which ends a valid marriage, an annulment declares that the marriage was never valid, to begin with.

Grounds for a civil annulment vary depending on the jurisdiction, but common grounds include fraud, duress, bigamy, incest, and mental incapacity. In some jurisdictions, annulments may also be granted for reasons such as underage marriage or for religious reasons.

To obtain a civil annulment, one of the parties must file a petition with the court and prove one of the grounds for annulment. The process can be complex and it is recommended that you consult with an attorney who specializes in family law.

It’s also important to note that after a civil annulment, the parties are considered to be single and can remarry. The annulment will also have an effect on the property division and child custody and support, similar to a divorce.

Grounds For Annulment New York

In New York, the grounds for annulment are limited and specific. The grounds for annulment in New York include:

  • Incest: If the parties are related within a certain degree of kinship, the marriage is considered incestuous and can be annulled.
  • Bigamy: If one of the parties was already married to someone else at the time of the marriage, the marriage can be annulled.
  • Underage: If either party was under the age of 18 at the time of the marriage, the marriage can be annulled if the party who was underage did not obtain the consent of a parent or guardian or a court order.
  • Duress: If either party was forced to marry against their will, the marriage can be annulled.
  • Fraud: If either party concealed a material fact or made a material misrepresentation that induced the other party to enter into the marriage, the marriage can be annulled.
  • Mental illness: If either party was of unsound mind or unable to understand the nature of the marriage contract, the marriage can be annulled.

It’s important to note that in order to obtain an annulment in New York, the party seeking the annulment must file a petition with the court and prove one of the grounds for annulment.

What Happens When the Underage Spouse Reaches 18?

When an underage spouse reaches the age of 18, they have the option to ratify or confirm the marriage. Ratification means that the underage spouse voluntarily chooses to confirm the marriage and make it valid.

In New York, if the underage spouse ratifies the marriage, it cannot be annulled based on the fact that one of the parties was underage at the time of the marriage. Once the underage spouse reaches 18 and ratifies the marriage, it becomes a valid and legal marriage. The couple will have all the rights and responsibilities of any other legally married couple, including the rights to property division, alimony, and child support if applicable. If you or your spouse want to end your marriage, you’ll need to follow the process of a traditional divorce. (N.Y. Dom. Rel. Law § 140 (b).)

It’s also worth noting that in some states, ratification may be automatic and the underage spouse may be considered to have ratified the marriage simply by living with their spouse and holding themselves out as married.

What Happens if a Mentally Ill Spouse has a Period of Sound Mind?

If a mentally ill spouse has a period of sound mind, it may affect the ability to obtain an annulment based on mental illness. In New York, if a party was of unsound mind or unable to understand the nature of the marriage contract at the time of the marriage, the marriage can be annulled. However, if the mentally ill spouse later has a period of sound mind and continues to cohabit with the other spouse, it may be considered a ratification of the marriage. This means that the mentally ill spouse is confirming the marriage and making it valid.

It’s important to note that a period of sound mind alone may not be enough to ratify the marriage. The court will consider the duration, continuity, and extent of the period of sound mind, as well as the circumstances and actions of the parties during that time. It’s also worth noting that if the mentally ill spouse has a period of sound mind but still lacks the capacity to understand the nature of the marriage contract, the marriage can still be annulled on the grounds of mental illness.

Annulment In New York
Image – Pexels.com

Can a Spouse Waive Fraud?

Whether a spouse can waive fraud as a ground for annulment depends on the jurisdiction and the specific laws and regulations in that state. In general, fraud is a material representation that induced one party to enter into the marriage contract. If a spouse discovers the fraud and continues to live with the other spouse, it may be considered a ratification of the marriage.

In New York, if either party concealed a material fact or made a material misrepresentation that induced the other party to enter into the marriage, the marriage can be annulled. However, if the defrauded spouse continues to cohabit with the other spouse after discovering the fraud, it may be considered a ratification of the marriage, which would make the marriage valid and legal.

Ratification of the marriage may not be automatic, the court will consider the circumstances and actions of the parties during the time of fraud discovery and the period of cohabitation. Note that even if a spouse waives fraud as grounds for annulment they still have the option to file for a divorce on grounds of irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.

How long do you have to annul a marriage in NY?

In New York, there is no specific time limit for annulling a marriage. The grounds for annulment are based on specific circumstances and conditions that existed at the time of the marriage.

In general, annulment should be sought as soon as possible after the discovery of the grounds for annulment, as there may be time limits for filing certain types of annulment claims. For example, if the annulment is based on fraud, it should be filed as soon as the fraud is discovered, as the court may only consider fraud that was discovered within a reasonable time after the marriage.

Additionally, there is a Statute of Limitations for certain grounds of annulment, for example, if the annulment is based on a spouse’s mental illness, it should be filed within a reasonable time after the discovery of the illness.

It’s important to note that even if the grounds for annulment existed at the time of the marriage if the parties continue to cohabit after the discovery of the grounds, it may be considered a ratification of the marriage, which would make the marriage valid and legal.

How much does an annulment cost in NY?

he cost of an annulment in New York can vary depending on a number of factors, such as the complexity of the case, the attorney’s hourly rate, and whether the case goes to trial or is settled out of court.

Generally, the cost of an annulment can range from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. The cost may be higher if the case is contested and goes to trial, as opposed to being settled out of court. It is important to keep in mind that in addition to attorney’s fees, there may be other costs associated with an annulment, such as court filing fees, which will vary depending on the county in which the case is filed.

If you qualify for a fee waiver or if you are low-income, you may be eligible for free legal representation or reduced fees. You can check with your local legal aid society or court for information on this.

It’s important to consult with an attorney who specializes in family law to understand the specific costs and fees associated with an annulment in New York and the potential implications on your rights and obligations.

How do I file for an annulment in New York?

To file for an annulment in New York, you will need to follow these general steps:

  • Consult with an attorney: Before filing for an annulment, it is advisable to consult with an attorney who specializes in family law to understand the specific laws and regulations in New York regarding annulment and the potential implications on your rights and obligations.
  • Gather necessary information and documents: You will need to gather information and documents that support your claims for annulment, such as a marriage certificate, proof of grounds for annulment, and any relevant financial or legal documents.
  • File a Summons with Notice or a Summons and Complaint: In New York, you can file for an annulment by using a Summons with Notice or a Summons and Complaint. A Summons with Notice is a legal document that notifies the other party of the annulment proceeding, while a Summons and Complaint include the grounds for annulment.
  • Serve the other party: After filing the Summons with Notice or Summons and Complaint, the other party must be served with a copy of the legal documents. This can be done by personal delivery, mail, or by leaving the documents with someone of suitable age and discretion at the other party’s residence.
  • File an Affidavit of Service: After the other party has been served, you will need to file an Affidavit of Service, which is a document that confirms that the other party has been served with the legal documents.
  • Attend court hearings: After the other party has been served, the court will schedule a hearing. Both parties will need to attend the hearing to present evidence and arguments.
  • Wait for the Court’s Decision: After the hearing, the court will issue a decision on the annulment. The decision will be based on the evidence and arguments presented by both parties.

Keep in mind that the process of annulment can take a significant amount of time and can be emotionally and financially taxing. It’s important to consult with an attorney who specializes in family law to understand the specific laws and regulations in New York regarding annulment and the potential implications on your rights and obligations.

Effects of an Annulment on Children and Support

The effects of an annulment on children and support can vary depending on the specific circumstances of the case. However, in general, an annulment is treated similarly to divorce in terms of child custody, child support, and parenting time.

If there are children involved, the court will make decisions regarding child custody, child support, and parenting time based on the best interests of the children. The court will consider factors such as the child’s age, health, and relationship with each parent when making these decisions.

Child support: If there are children involved, the court will also make a determination regarding child support. The court will consider the income and financial resources of both parents, as well as the needs of the children when determining the amount of child support that will be ordered.

Parenting time: If there are children involved, the court will also make a determination regarding parenting time, which is the time that each parent will spend with the children. The court will consider the child’s age, health, and relationship with each parent when making this decision.

Additionally, an annulment does nothing to affect custody or child support and instead establishes a presumption of paternity—meaning, the court presumes both parents are biological parents of any child born during the marriage. (N.Y. Dom. Rel. Law § 24.)

Extra Resources

For a complete list of the grounds and effects of an annulment proceeding in New York, see N.Y. Dom. Rel. Law §24 and §140(b-e). If you have additional questions on the requirements or the process for annulment in New York, contact an experienced family law attorney near you.

Leave a Comment

This blog is ONLY for informational or educational purposes and DOES NOT substitute professional legal advise. We take no responsibility or credit for what you do with this info.