A divorce is the most common way for two individuals to end their marriage, but it’s not the only way. Individuals unsatisfied with their marriage can also petition for what’s known as an annulment. The key difference between the two is that in a divorce, the state views the parties as having separated after marriage, while in an annulment, the state views the marriage as invalid and as if it never happened in the first place. One process is the legal ending of a valid marriage, and the other is the legal ending of what the parties hope to get declared an invalid marriage.
However, when it comes to an annulment, there are some more factors that need to be present and timelines that need to be met in order for the marriage to be declared invalid. We explore those factors and timelines in today’s blog.
Getting An Annulment in Illinois
Many individuals seek an annulment because of how their religion views divorce, but ultimately it doesn’t matter why you’re seeking an annulment as long as you meet the requirements for pursuing an annulment. You can file for divorce for something as general as irreconcilable differences, but for an annulment, you need to prove that one of these four reasons exist in your marriage. The four grounds for annulment in Illinois are:
- One party lacked the mental capability to consent to the marriage. This can be because they had a mental disability, because they were under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or because they were forced or under duress to consent to the marriage
- One spouse cannot consummate the marriage with sexual intercourse (some restrictions apply, which we’ll touch on below).
- One spouse was under 18 at the time of the marriage and did not have consent from a parent, guardian or the court.
- The marriage was illegal due to one spouse already being married, or because the marriage took place between individuals who are closely related by blood or adoption.
As you can see, it’s not exactly easy to meet the qualifications for getting a marriage annulled, and that’s before we get into the short timeline you have for filing for an annulment.
If you believe that your spouse was mentally handicapped, under the influence, forced or coerced into your marriage, you have 90 days from the time you find out about the problem to file for an annulment. It’s 90 days from when you find out about the problem, not 90 days from the day of your marriage, but that’s still a short window to file for an annulment.
If you learn that your spouse is unable to consummate the marriage, you have one year from the date of your marriage to file for an annulment. The state also requires that you didn’t know about their inability to have sexual intercourse at the time of your marriage.
For individuals who are under 18 or whose parents find about about their child’s underage marriage that took place without their consent, those parties have until the child turns 18 to file for an annulment.
Finally, there is no time limit to file for an annulment if you are filing on the final ground that the parties are closely related by blood or adoption. Regardless of whether this is new information or something that you’ve known for years, you can file for an annulment on this grounds at any point during your marriage.
If you think you meet the criteria for an annulment or you want to learn more if it is an option for you, reach out to the experienced Family Law attorneys at Appelman & Lloyd today.