Many spouses new to the divorce process wonder if they can simply get their marriage annulled rather than having to go through the process of divorce in a state court. In Florida, there are limited circumstances in which a marriage will be annulled, which means the law will treat the marriage as having never been valid in the first place, thus there is no need for a divorce proceeding. In some cases, an individual can treat the marriage as never having been valid without going to court, while in other cases, the individual will have to go to court to have the marriage annulled. But these circumstances are relatively rare, and it is important to understand the difference between an annulment provided by a religious organization and one provided by the state of Florida.
Why a State Annulment is Different
We most often hear about annulments in the context of a religious organization. A number of religious sects offer annulments of marriages, but those are only valid from the perspective of the organization and do not affect your marital status in the state’s eyes. For example, a church’s rules might disallow a divorced person to remarry, so it will annul the person’s previous marriage to allow for remarriage in the church. Again, this has nothing to do with how the state views your marriage, meaning even if your church annuls your marriage, you will still have to have your marriage annulled by the state or obtain a divorce.
Void Marriages in Florida
Florida does consider certain types of marriages to be void – in other words, automatically annulled – in the following situations:
- Bigamy: where one spouse to the marriage is currently married to another person (even if the religion of either or both spouses allows for this)
- Incest: where the marriage is between two parties closely related by blood, including parents, children, siblings, uncles, aunts, nephews, and nieces
- Common law marriages entered into after 1968
Voidable Marriage Scenarios in Florida
While the above marriages are considered automatically void, the following types of marriage scenarios may be voidable through annulment when one spouse raises the issue in a court proceeding:
- Where one of the spouses is impotent
- Where one of the spouses is underage (the minimum age is 18 without parental consent or 16 with parental consent)
- Where the marriage was procured by duress, undue influence, or fraud
With these types of scenarios, a spouse should act quickly in seeking annulment or else a Florida court may deem that the issue was waived by the other spouse.
Legal Counsel in Your Florida Annulment or Divorce
The vast majority of actions to legally terminate a marriage in Florida proceed through the typical divorce process, but annulment may nevertheless be the best option for some parties. Regardless of whether you are seeking an annulment or divorce in Florida, it is important to make sure you are proceeding properly and that your property rights are honored by working with a Florida family law attorney who will solely represent your interests.
If you have any questions regarding family law in Florida, The Law Offices of Ira M. Marcus, P.A. in Miami can help. Contact our office today to set up a consultation with a trusted and caring Florida family law attorney.