Summary in Divorce
An overwhelming number of marriages end in divorce; a few end by annulment, which is a court ruling that treats the marriage as if it never took place. In civil courts, marriages may be annulled in one of two ways. One, if a marriage was never legally consummated; for instance, when one party is already married, the union is said to be void, or a "nullity," i.e., it never existed. Or, two, a marriage may be found a voidable marriage when it is valid until or unless it is annulled. In the first case, the marriage never happened; in the second, the marriage happened but is in some way flawed so that it may be voided. The first is said to be void ab initio ("from inception"); the second is said to be voidable nunc pro tunc ("from now for then").Grounds for annulment include bigamy. Grounds for annulling a voidable marriage include serious fraud or a party’s legal incompetence at the time of the marriage. Duress, bigamy, and fraud are the most common grounds for an annulment.Annulled marriages bypass many of the obligations normally associated with marriages that end in divorce, including property distribution, alimony, distribution of Social Security. Annulments are not an easy way to escape a foolishly made marriage. Some people are under the mistaken impression that they can escape a foolish marriage because they were only married for a short period of time or they do not have any children with their spouse. These are typically not valid reasons for a court to grant an annulment. While the marriage never happened, the children of annulled marriages are legitimate.Civil annulments should not be confused with those granted by religious tribunes, most notably the Catholic Church.
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