Florida has two procedures to end a marriage legally. You can divorce your spouse under Florida’s divorce laws or petition the court for an annulment. Both procedures legally end the marriage, but an annulment goes one step further.
An annulment voids the marriage. The law does not recognize that the parties were ever married. Annulments are only granted in specific cases and are uncommon in Florida.
What Are the Grounds for an Annulment in Florida?
To qualify for an annulment in Florida, you must have entered into a voidable marriage. In other words, the marriage should have never occurred because of a condition that existed when the spouses married.
Florida recognizes several grounds for annulment. Your marriage may qualify for an annulment in Florida if any of the following situations apply:
- The marriage was entered into because of duress or fraud
- A spouse is married to more than one person (i.e., bigamy)
- The parties are closely related by blood (i.e., incestuous relationship)
- One spouse suffered from a permanent mental incapacity that prevented them from consenting to the marriage
- A spouse had a temporary condition that made it impossible for them to consent to the marriage
- A party concealed sexual impotence
- A spouse refuses to consummate the marriage
- One spouse was underage at the time of the marriage and did not have a guardian or parent’s consent to get married
Because the marriage never existed, the parties return to their pre-marital status after an annulment. Typically, neither spouse receives alimony or spousal support. However, the courts have the authority to award temporary alimony in an annulment case involving fraud and misrepresentation.
Judges must also decide how to divide property the couple acquired during the marriage. If the marriage did not exist, no marital property should be subject to equitable division. Therefore, courts decide property division based on the facts and circumstances of the case.
Additionally, an annulment can automatically dissolve some trusts and financial arrangements. Therefore, seeking legal advice from an Orlando annulment attorney is important before proceeding with the process.
What Happens With Child Custody and Child Support if a Couple Annuls Their Marriage?
Even though a couple annuls their marriage, it does not terminate their parental rights and responsibilities. Therefore, the judge determines child custody matters based on what is in the best interest of the child. Child support obligations are based on the Florida child support guidelines.
Parents are encouraged to develop a parenting plan and visitation schedule that works for the family. However, if the parents cannot agree, the judge makes the decision for them.
What Is the Annulment Process in Orlando, Florida?
An annulment requires a court order. The process is similar to beginning a divorce action. One spouse must file a petition with the court alleging that the marriage is void or voidable and the reasons why.
The petition for annulment is served on the other spouse, who has a deadline for filing a response. If the spouse disagrees with the annulment, they can counterclaim by asking for a divorce.
The spouse filing for annulment must prove that the marriage qualifies for an annulment. Florida law presumes a marriage is legal unless a court receives evidence proving the marriage is not valid and legal.
There are no specific Florida statutes that govern the annulment process. As a result, judges decide annulments based on precedence from other cases and the specific laws that render a marriage void or voidable.
Why Would a Spouse Want an Annulment Instead of a Divorce?
Many people petition to annul their marriage for religious reasons. Some religions do not recognize divorce. Therefore, the spouses can end the marriage without obtaining a divorce, which satisfies their faith and allows them to remarry if they desire.
Some churches have a procedure for annulling a marriage. However, that is a religious annulment. If the couple wants to end the marriage legally, they must seek an annulment or divorce through the courts.
Other reasons for an annulment might include the desire to avoid spousal support and property division. Alimony is much more rare in annulment cases. Additionally, if the spouse received alimony from another person, those payments might resume after the annulment because the marriage never existed.
Working with an experienced Orlando annulment lawyer is the best way to achieve your desired outcome. An attorney understands the law and the complicated nature of an annulment. If you want an annulment or have questions, your first call should be to an Orlando divorce lawyer.
Contact the Orlando Family and Divorce Law Firm of Conti Moore Law Divorce Lawyers, PLLC for Help Today
Conti Moore Law Divorce Lawyers, PLLC
815 N Magnolia Ave Suite 100
Orlando, FL 32803