Annulment in Minnesota

Annulment is for invalid marriages
Annulments are for invalid marriages

Are you able to get an annulment in Minnesota?  The short answer is usually “no”.  Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions about annulments.  In particular, some believe that annulment is just a low-cost alternative to divorce.  In reality, this is not the case.

Divorce vs. Annulment in Minnesota

Divorces and annulments have different purposes.

  • 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.  Therefore, the marriage is not valid.

In practice, people can only get an annulment in rare circumstances.  There are two types of these circumstances.  They are “void” marriages and “voidable” marriages.

Void vs. Voidable Marriages

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

  • Marriages with close blood relatives
  • Marriages when one party was still previously married

Void marriages more frequently arise from the second situation.  Specifically, a later spouse discovers that his or her partner was married previously and was never divorced.  In this case, the latter marriage is automatically invalid in Minnesota. 

In this case, the married party should divorce his or her first spouse.  Then he or she may legally remarry the new partner.

Voidable marriages are deficient in some way, but allowed to continue.  The marriage continues as valid 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 spouse was less 16 or 17 years old or
  • One spouse was not able to consummate the marriage and the other party did not know of this at the time of marriage or
  • One spouse 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 Doesn’t Usually Apply to Marriages

Marriages end for many reasons.  Typical examples include financial struggles, infidelity, disagreements regarding child care, or abuse.  Annulments don’t apply to any of these. 

In addition, a valid marriage is valid immediately. In other words, even valid short-term marriages don’t end by annulment.

This is why divorce, not annulment, is almost always the necessary course of action if one party wants to end a marriage.

For other divorce or family law questions, please consult the list to the left or the FAQ page.  If you’re interested in retaining an attorney to help you, please feel free to contact my office for a consultation using the contact information on the left or the contact form on the Majeski Law home page.  For Court rules, please click here.