What Is Marriage Annulment?

Sometimes we get asked about a marriage annulment. Clients have heard that it’s a way to end a marriage without getting a divorce. This is technically true — an annulment is different than a divorce — but most clients will not meet the criteria for an annulment.

A divorce is a process that ends a marriage that is valid and is currently going on. An annulment ends the marriage by legally declaring that the marriage never took place, to begin with.

In Georgia, it is possible to get a marriage annulled, although it is very rare and the courts tend to be reluctant to go this route unless you have very strong evidence in your favor that will back up your request. You should also know that if you and your spouse have children together, or your spouse is pregnant, under Georgia law, the only remedy you have is a divorce.

How Do I Get An Annulment in Georgia?

Annulment essentially declares a marriage “void”. Legally, you are declaring that the marriage was either illegal or was never valid. So, there are a limited number of reasons for making this declaration.

In Georgia, the grounds for annulment are:

  • Incestuous marriage (the two spouses are closely related, as in parent/child, parent/stepchild, grandparent/grandchild, uncle/niece, aunt/nephew)
  • One spouse is still married to another party (i.e. a case of bigamy)
  • One or both spouses was mentally incompetent at the time of the marriage
  • One or both spouses were underage at the time of the marriage. (Georgia law requires both parties to be at least 17, regardless of parental consent, and a 17-year-old cannot marry anyone more than four years older than themselves.)
  • The marriage took place by coercion or fraud on the part of one party towards the other.

Same-sex marriage is no longer considered grounds for annulment in the state of Georgia. Also, the length of a marriage is not grounds for an annulment (“we’ve only been married a few months”).

In order to ask the court for an annulment, you must have lived in Georgia for at least six months and you must file a petition in the county in which you live.

Just because you meet one of the criteria for an annulment does not mean the court will grant one. The courts are very reluctant to approve an annulment. An example would be a person who gets married because of fraud by their spouse. If you know about the fraud, but you continue to live with them, you are ineligible for an annulment.

You may have been wronged in the past, but by ignoring the wrong and continuing in the marriage, you are giving your blessing to it. There will not be an annulment for you!

Annulment Procedure

You request an annulment by filing a motion with the court, the same way you would do for a divorce. In case the grounds for annulment involve an underage child, the parent of the child has the legal right to make an annulment filing.

Remember, that if you and your spouse have children or a party is pregnant, you cannot ask for an annulment. In Georgia, to protect the interests of the children, you will need to ask the court for a divorce.

You can remarry after the court issues a final judgment.

An Attorney Can Help

Even though you are asking for an annulment versus a divorce, there will still be financial issues, such as alimony and division of assets. It’s important that you talk to an experienced attorney who can help you collect evidence for the annulment, but can also guide you through any financial repercussions.

Family Matters Law Group is a law practice dedicated to fighting for families, their assets, and their money. We’ve helped many clients across the Atlanta metro area achieve successful outcomes in court. If you believe your marriage is invalid and want to seek an annulment, contact our office today. We’re ready to listen to your story and fight for you!