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What is an Annulment on Long Island, NY?

A Long Island marriage annulment can result in a marriage being declared void or invalid by a Nassau County or Suffolk County Court Order. This means that the marriage is not recognized as legal, and for legal purposes, never existed. In certain cases, annulment is the appropriate resolution of a marriage when a spouse can prove that the marriage was never legally valid. New York Domestic Relations Law Section 140 sets forth the grounds for and effects of annulment. Essentially, an annulment is different from a divorce in the sense that it is as though the marriage never took place in the eyes of the law.

How is Annulment Different from Divorce?

Annulment is different from a finalized divorce because an annulled marriage is not a legally recognized marriage, while divorce legally ends a valid marriage. The procedure for annulment is also different from the procedure for divorce in New York. A divorce can be granted upon the written, sworn testimony of the parties without a trial. In contrast, an annulment on Long Island requires a hearing before a judge in Nassau County or Suffolk County. One of the very specific grounds for annulment must be proven in court and before a judge. For this reason, an annulment is more difficult to obtain for most marriages.

A marriage can also be declared to be a nullity by a court. This means that the marriage is automatically void and will not be legally recognized. While the record of marriage and annulment will still exist, the parties can consider themselves to have never been married. This can occur in the case of incestuous marriages or bigamous marriages, as these types of marriages are not legal in New York. A spouse in a void marriage can bring an action in court asking for a declaration of the nullity of a void marriage.

How Can I Get an Annulment on Long Island?

Annulments are granted by the court in very specific circumstances. Most marriages would not be entitled to an annulment. There are several grounds for annulment, including:

  • Illegality
  • fraud or coercion
  • lack of mental capacity to enter into a marriage
  • lack of physical capacity to consummate a marriage

Some of these grounds can be waived if you remain in the marriage despite the issue. For an annulment, one of the legal grounds must be conclusively proven in court.

See below for more detailed descriptions of these grounds.

What are the Grounds for Annulment on Long Island?

First, any marriage that is illegal in New York is automatically void and will not be recognized. Examples of such marriages include incestuous or bigamous marriages. Other marriages can also be annulled by the court. Sometimes the ability of a person to consent to the marriage results in the marriage being voidable later on.

The marriage of someone under the age of 18 without the consent of both parents or legal guardians of that underage person is a voidable marriage that can be annulled by the court. Marriage of any person under the age of 16 needs the additional approval by a judge. Someone who gets married before the age of 18 without meeting these requirements can get an annulment upon turning 18. It is important to understand, however, that this ground for annulment is waived if the spouses continue to cohabitate or live together after both have reached the age of 18.

One of the other grounds for annulment is lack of capacity to consent to the marriage. This means that the person did not understand that they were entering into a legally binding marriage or did not understand the nature or consequences of that action. If a spouse could not give actual consent to the marriage because of lack of understanding of the nature, effect, or consequences of marriage as a result of some mental incapacity, then this is likely grounds for annulment.

If the spouse that suffers from mental illness has a period of sound mind and continues to freely cohabitate throughout this time, the marriage may be considered ratified. If the person regains his or her mental capacity and then continues to cohabitate with his or her spouse and remain in the marriage, then this ground for annulment is also waived.

Physical capacity is needed to consummate a marriage with sexual intercourse. If neither spouse knew of the physical incapacity at the time of the marriage, the annulment must be requested within 5 years of being married.

Finally, if the marriage was entered into by fraud or coercion, the marriage may be annulled. A fraudulent marriage may occur when a spouse entered the marriage for the purpose of obtaining immigration status. Another example is where a spouse claimed to be pregnant in order to induce the other party to marry them. These and similar situations that are related to the core purpose of a marriage may constitute a fraudulent marriage subject to annulment.

What Happens to the Children of an Annulled Marriage?

Even after a marriage is annulled, children of the marriage will still be considered legitimate children of then-married parents. Parents will still be legally responsible for the children in terms of custody, visitation and child support, and will be subject to relevant laws.

What about the Property of an Annulled Marriage?

The annulled marriage will still be subject to the state laws regarding division of marital property in order to split the marital property fairly between the spouses.

Does a Legal Annulment Have Any Affect on the Religious Validity of the Marriage?

No. Obtaining a legal annulment does not constitute a religious annulment, which can only be granted by a church or clergy.

Questions About Annulment on Long Island? Contact Us for Free Consultation

If you are in Nassau County, Suffolk County, or the five boroughs of New York City, and you have questions about annulment and whether your marriage may be void or voidable, reach out to the Divorce Law Firm of Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. at 631-923-1910 for a free consultation.

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