Annulment of a marriage in the state of Georgia are generally rare and the court is generally maintains a hesitant attitude in processing an annulment of marriage in lieu of an uncontested divorce or contested divorce. An annulment differs from divorce in that it declares the marriage an invalid act from the inception of the act, whereas, a divorce recognizes the marriage and operates to divide the legal union.
The following are a list of circumstances in which an annulment may be granted:
- The parties are related by blood or marriage.
- A party lacked the mental capacity to enter into the marital contract.
- A party was under the age of sixteen (16) at the time.
- The parties were forced to marry.
- A party was fraudulently induced to enter marriage.
- A party is guilty of bigamy and is married to another spouse at the time of marriage.
The responsibility of providing evidence to substantiate the claims, that the marriage should be annulled on the basis of the previously mentioned circumstances, is the party filing for the annulment process. If the court believes that the case is not right to acquire an annulment then the party desiring the dissolution of the marriage will need to file for a divorce. For more information on void marriages see Ga. Code. Ann. § 19-3-5.
How Long Does It Take to Get an Annulment?
Generally the process of acquiring an annulment will take a minimum of 45 days after the other party has received a certificate of service regarding the annulment and has failed to either contest the annulment or respond to the petition. Most cases for annulment will take longer if evidence is needed to substantiate the claims to the annulment petition or in instances in which the petition is contested by the opposing party. In instances in which the opposing party is contesting it is important to obtain legal representation as an attorney may be able to better assist you in providing evidence and establishing that the case is right for an annulment on the basis of your evidence.
Annulment Typically Take Longer to Be Granted.
Also, generally, while you may file for an annulment and it may be unopposed by the other party, there is no such thing in Georgia as an uncontested annulment, and they are not the in the same nature as an uncontested divorce. An annulment will have to work its way through the court system, even if it is unopposed, generally the same way a contested divorce would. This is the main reason annulments take longer than the typical uncontested divorce in Georgia is that annulments are technically contested matters, and cannot be filed as an uncontested case. The inherent court system requirements for contested cases delays the granting of a final judgment in most annulment cases, even if the other party does not respond or contest the annulment.
Can I Get an Annulment if We Have Children?
No. Georgia law states that parties that have consummated the marriage and are either pregnant or have had children since the inception of the marriage may not obtain an annulment. This includes the adoption of children by the parties. In these types of situations the petition for an annulment will be denied and the party requesting the annulment will need to file for divorce. In some rare situations of undetected pregnancy the parties have acquired an annulment. However, the children in these situations were still considered to be fathered by the previous party of the annulment and therefore legitimate. For more information on annulments and the effects on children. See Ga. Code.Ann., § 19-4-1.
May I Receive Alimony if I Get an Annulment?
Ironically, a party may receive alimony temporarily following an annulment. This is contradictory in many ways as “alimony” by legal definition is intended to support parties during and following a divorce. In order for alimony to be received a marriage must be recognized before it is terminated. However, alimony may still be received temporarily in annulment cases although the marriage was declared void from beginning and not legally recognized. If you believe that you wish to pursue temporary alimony following an annulment you should consult with an attorney.
What are the Benefits of an Annulment?
The primary benefit to an annulment is that it treats the marriage as if it never occurred; which helps the parting parties avoid the stigma of a divorce. A secondary benefit is that an annulment is a relatively fast process which can allow for an avoidance of a long divorce process. Lastly, an annulment can allow for a person to remarry as soon as the court issues a final court order issuing the annulment.
What can I do if my Annulment is not granted?
Divorce is the most logical and common alternative to an annulment. Many cases filed as an annulment actually turn into divorce either by the other party filing what is called a Counterclaim for Divorce or the case getting dismissed and being refiled as a divorce. Also, it is also sometimes recommended that a plaintiff file the case as an annulment, with a claim for divorce in the event the court declines to approve the annulment. For personal reason, some people do not want to leave divorce as an option when filing, but can be forced to face divorce if the other party files a Counterclaim for Divorce. These ares issues that should be discussed with an experienced divorce and annulment attorney.