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Can I Get an Annulment in Minnesota?

November 17, 2012 by  
Filed under Divorce, Family Law

The short answer, is probably “no”.  There seem to be a lot of popular misconceptions about annulments.  In particular, some believe that annulment is simply a convenient alternative to divorce and preferably a low-cost one.  This is simply not the case.

Divorce vs. Annulment

A divorce is different from an annulment.  A divorce is the legalized end of a valid marriage.  An annulment is a legal recognition that the marriage had some deficiency from the start and therefore will not be recognized as a marriage from the start. 

The reality is, in Minnesota there are only a few narrow circumstances in which you may be entitled to an annulment.  In Minnesota, there are two types of situation in which an annulment may apply.  There are “void” marriages and “voidable” marriages.

Void vs. Voidable Marriages

Void marriages refer to marriages that were never and can never be valid as a matter of law.  These fall into three types:

  • Same-sex marriages
  • Marriages with close blood relatives
  • Marriages when one party was still previously married

Most frequently I see this question pop up for the last situation.  Specifically, a later spouse discovers that their partner was married previously and had never been legally divorced.  In this situation, the latter marriage is automatically invalid in Minnesota.  The solution is to have the married party legally divorce and then remarry their second spouse.

Voidable marriages are those that will be allowed to continue, despite their deficiency, unless one party or the other challenges the marriage in a timely manner based on the deficiency.  Voidable marriages in Minnesota include:

  • At least one party was underage (less than 18)
  • At least one party was not able to consummate the marriage and the other party did not know of this at the time of marriage or
  • At least one party lacked capacity due to any of:

Incapacity due to being under the influence of drugs or alcohol

Mental incapacity

One party committed fraud or used force to compel the marriage

Annulment Conditions Usually Don’t Apply to Divorce Situations

The bulk of reasons for dissolving a marriage, like financial struggles, infidelity, disagreements regarding child care, or abuse don’t generally trigger the conditions needed for an annulment.  This is why divorce, not annulment, is almost always the proper course of action if one party wants to get out of a marriage.

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