Every state has its own laws which regulate the process of divorce and annulment. In Florida, its laws do not explicitly address annulment, though its appellate courts have set precedent for the state throughout the years, which constitute the state’s annulment laws. Annulments are not the norm in Florida and are often quite difficult, but not impossible, to obtain.
Annulling a Marriage in Florida
Florida makes distinctions between void marriages and voidable marriages. A void marriage is one that was invalid from the start of the union, whereas a marriage that is voidable might not have been void from the beginning. All void marriages can be annulled, but not all voidable marriages qualify for an annulment. The following are the circumstances under which a marriage can be annulled in the state of Florida:
- The marriage is void because it is either bigamous, incestuous, one or both spouses are underage, or one spouse is mentally incapacitated and unable to consent to the marriage. These are marriages that, even if desired, could not be made legal. However, it is still advisable to obtain an annulment.
- The marriage is voidable because a spouse did not have the ability to consent to marriage when the ceremony took place or was under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- The marriage is voidable because a spouse tricked the other into entering the marriage through fraudulent acts or misrepresentation. Not all misrepresentations are grounds for an annulment.
- The marriage is voidable because one or both spouses were coerced, forced, or under some form of duress.
- The marriage is voidable because one spouse is impotent and the other was unaware of this at the time of their marriage.
Obtaining an Annulment
To obtain an annulment, you are required to get a court order, even if the marriage is void. Annulment papers must be filed in Florida’s circuit courts. To initiate this process, you need to file and serve a petition for annulment, in which you should explain why your marriage is either void or voidable. If your spouse does not agree with the statements made in your petition, he or she has a right to file and serve a counterclaim for dissolution of marriage. If the counterclaim is successful, you will be granted a divorce instead of an annulment.
If an annulment is granted, the circuit court will still make decisions regarding child custody, support, and visitation rights, regardless if a marriage was void or voidable. When it comes to property and assets, neither spouse can inherit from the other, nor will the court divide the property as it would in a divorce. As such, it would be the responsibility of both spouses to restore their previous financial situations and divide property to the best of their abilities.
Additionally, permanent alimony is not typically awarded in annulment cases. There are rare circumstances in which it is possible, however. For example, if a spouse was an innocent victim of the other spouse’s transgressions, the court might award the suffering spouse permanent alimony and attorney fees.
Panama City Annulment Attorneys
Annulment and divorce are similar in regards to their ultimate result – the end of a marriage. While these two paths take couples to the same destination, they are actually quite different. A divorce is the end of a valid and existing marriage, while an annulment confirms that a marriage never existed.
If you are seeking an annulment in the state of Florida, the Panama City divorce attorneys at The Virga Law Firm, P.A. can help you determine your eligibility and make the process as smooth and quick as possible. Backed by more than 40 years of combined legal experience, your legal team possesses the extensive knowledge of state laws and court proceedings in order to effectively help you navigate the complexities of your case.
For reliable counsel, contact our office today at (850) 257-7086 and schedule a consultation with a skilled and experienced member of our team.