Can I Get an Annulment in Minnesota?

Annulment is for invalid marriages
Annulments are for invalid marriages

Can someone get an annulment in Minnesota?  The short answer is probably “no”.  Unfortunately, there are many popular misconceptions about annulments.  In particular, some believe that annulment is simply a convenient, low-cost alternative to divorce.  In reality, this is simply not the case.

Divorce vs. Annulment in Minnesota

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.  Therefore, this is not recognized as a marriage from the start. 

The reality is, in Minnesota there are only a few narrow circumstances for an annulment.  There are two types of situation in which an annulment may apply.  They 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 two types:

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

Most frequently this question arises in the second situation.  Specifically, a later spouse discovers that his or her partner was married previously and had never been legally divorced. 

In this situation, the latter marriage is automatically invalid in Minnesota.  The solution: The married party legally divorces their first spouse.  Then he or she remarries the new partner.

Voidable marriages are 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)
  • One party was not able to consummate the marriage and the other party did not know of this at the time of marriage or
  • 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 Doesn’t Usually Apply to Marriages

Most reasons for dissolving a marriage, like financial struggles, infidelity, disagreements regarding child care, or abuse don’t satisfy the annulment criteria.  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.