Although it is difficult to obtain an annulment in Pennsylvania, it is not impossible. Parties, for various reasons, would like their marriage declared invalid and thus deemed as if the parties never married. A marriage can be declared invalid by either party if his or her conduct provides a basis for the annulment. There are legal annulments and religion-based annulments.
Pennsylvania divorce law recognizes two distinct types of marriages that may be annulled – those that are void from their inception and those which are voidable. Circumstances surrounding marriages that would constitute grounds for an annulment and thus be void as long as there is no cohabitation after learning of the “impediment” to the marriage may include:
- One person at the time of marriage was married to another
- Spouses are related within certain degrees of consanguinity. For example, you cannot marry a close relative such as your mother, father, first aunt, first uncle, brother, sister, first cousin, or grandchild
- Either party was incapable of consenting by reason of insanity or mental disorder or otherwise lacked the mental capacity to enter into marriage
- Either party to a purported common law marriage was under 18 years old
The following marriages can be valid but voidable from inception and thus constitute grounds for an annulment:
- One party is under the age of 16 and did not have the consent of the court to marry
- Either party was age 16 or 17 and did not have parental consent nor authority from the court to marry, and the marriage was not subsequently approved upon reaching age 18 as long as the action for the annulment was commenced within 60 days after the marriage ceremony
- Either party was under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol and an action for annulment is commenced within 60 days after the marriage ceremony
- “Natural and incurable” impotence was not known to the other party prior to the marriage
- A party married under the influence of fraud, duress, coercion or force and there was no voluntary cohabitation after knowledge of the fraud or release from the effects of fraud, duress, coercion or force.
Certain religions may not recognize legal annulments or divorces. A legal annulment or a divorce decree gives a person the right to re-marry. An annulment through a religious organization may give a person the right to re-marry through their church or place of worship. Pennsylvania Family Law Attorneys do not assist in religious-based annulments.
In Pennsylvania there is no such thing as a legal separation. It is presumed that the date one files for divorce is the date of separation unless you can prove otherwise. In some rare cases, spouses can prove to be separated even if they live under the same roof. The amount of time you have been separated can be important in some cases if you are looking to obtain a quick divorce. If you are considering separation or divorce in Pennsylvania, it is in your best interest to meet with Sweeney Law Offices before take action. Separating can affect support, custody and even equitable distribution. Call us today at 724-742-2590 or email us to schedule a consultation to discuss your unique situation.