In certain cases, individuals who no longer wish to be married can get their marriage annulled instead of filing for divorce. An annulment is a type of lawsuit where a judge rules a marriage is invalid for reasons at the beginning of a marriage. These reasons can include a spouse being under the influence of drugs or alcohol during the time of the marriage, a spouse convincing their partner to marry by fraud or force, or a spouse concealing information such as a prior divorce. While a divorce acknowledges that a marriage happened, legally speaking, an annulment is when the court deems the whole marriage invalid.
How do I file for an annulment?
First things first: to file for an annulment in Texas, one spouse has to have lived in the state for at least 6 months, and in the county where you file for 90 days. Generally, an annulment lawsuit can be filed in the county where the parties lived when the marriage took place. Call your local district clerk to check which county courts handle annulment cases.
To request an annulment, you’ll have to file a document called “A Suit to Declare Void the Marriage of [Petitioner] and [Respondent].” If you’re the one filing for annulment, you’re the “petitioner.” The paperwork needs to list the full names of you, your spouse, and any children. You’ll also need to list any shared property you have with your spouse if you want the court to divide it. Once the paperwork is filed, you’ll get an extra copy to serve to your spouse—the district clerk can explain your options for formally serving them if they’re hard to find.
Unlike divorces, there’s no formal waiting period for an annulment. However, courts are generally busy, so don’t expect them to grant it right away: expect the process to take at least a few weeks.
Alternatively, Texas law allows you or your spouse to demand a jury trial in the matter of annulment. In that case, you’ll have a hearing before a judge or jury, and will have to prove the legal grounds for annulment before them.
What if there are children in the marriage I’m trying to annul?
That complicates matters, naturally. There will need to be a custody suit on top of the annulment, which will allow the court to make orders regarding custody, child support, visitation and health insurance for the children.
What If I can’t get my marriage annulled?
That doesn’t mean you’re necessarily trapped in the marriage. To end it, however, you’ll have to go through divorce proceedings.
Do I need a lawyer to get an annulment?
A family law attorney can help guide you through the process of determining whether you qualify for an annulment, and through the process of filing for one. Contact Sandoval Family Law today to learn more about how we can legally support and represent you during your annulment.