This process, also known as annulment is where a party seeks to have their marriage be declared invalid under certain circumstances or conditions. A divorce seeks to terminate the marriage and allow the marriage status to be terminated at the time the divorce is entered, whereas an annulment seeks to have the court determine that the marriage never existed. The grounds for an annulment are very rigorous so if you believe this is an appropriate course for your situation, it is important to work with a knowledgeable and experienced family law attorney. At Pingel Family Law, we have over twenty years of experience.
In Missouri and Kansas, marriages are presumed to be valid. When a marriage is void, it is presumed improper and as the result, never existed in the eyes of the law. Even if you believe your marriage was void and thus, never legal from the outset, if you have held yourself out as married, it is important to seek a Judgment of Annulment to legally ensure the marriage does not exist.
What are the grounds to have your marriage annulled?
A marriage has to be determined to be either void (never legal from the inception) or voidable.
Some common grounds include common law marriage in Missouri. While Kansas still recognizes common law marriage, Missouri does not. A few cases in Missouri have recognized equitable relief for a common law marriage validly entered into in another state.
If one party was less than fifteen years old at the time of the marriage and a judicial consent was not obtained, a party cannot legally consent to the marriage.
If marriage happens by related people to the degree prohibited by statute, the marriage is void.
If one (or both) parties to a marriage lacked sufficient mental capacity to consent to a marriage or if one party consented under duress, the marriage can be held void.
Fraud, meaning that one party was already married.
What is the definition of fraud?
The requisite elements of fraud are generally:
- A representation;
- The representation is false;
- The representation is material;
- The speaker has knowledge of the falsity of the representation or is ignorant of the truth;
- The speaker’s intent is that the representation be acted upon;
- The hearer is ignorant of the falsity of the representation;
- The hearer’s reliance on the representation;
- The hearer’s right to rely on the representation;
- Resulting injury to the hearer;
If any of the above-referenced factors are present and if both parties stipulate to the factors involved, a marriage can be annulled and declared invalid very quickly/summarily. However, if there is disagreement or dispute as to some or all of the facts, the parties are likely to have to engage in a more traditional process of discovery and addressing the other issues, including addressing disputed facts through a court hearing or trial if needed.
If you believe your situation requires an annulment, please reach out to Pingel Family Law today to schedule your consultation at (816) 208-8130 to discuss the factors involved in your situation and our analysis as to their likely resolution.