Even though Florida does not have a statute allowing annulments, they are permitted by the courts in Florida. Your eligibility for an annulment depends on your capacity to marry and your consent to marry.
You cannot get an annulment simply because you have been married for a short time and you no longer wish to be married.
An annulment based on lack of “consent to marry” include the following situations (with examples):
- Sham marriages (marriage solely for immigration purposes),
- Duress (marriage under threat of violence)
- Lack of mental capacity (intoxication or mental disability)
- Fraud (a lie – without which the marriage would not have occurred)
An annulment based on “capacity to marry” includes the following situations (with examples):
- Physical problem (impotence or fertility issues)
- Bigamy (already married)
- No age (under 18 years old)
- Consanguinity (prohibited family relationship)
In some situations, one spouse will want an annulment, but the other will not. A spouse might want an annulment in order to avoid paying alimony or a more adorable division of property.
A common defense to a spouse’s request for an annulment is “ratification.” This legal doctrine prohibits an annulment where you learn of a defect in the marriage and choose to remain in the marriage. For example, suppose that it is very important for a Husband that his wife have the ability to bear children. The Wife knows that the Husband feels this way. However, prior to the marriage, the Wife knows that she cannot have children and does not tell the Husband. During the marriage, after failing to get pregnant, the Wife tells the Husband of her deception. The Husband then tells the Wife that he loves her and they remain married. However, a few years later, their marriage falls apart and the Husband seeks an annulment based on the Wife’s lie about her ability to have children.
In this situation, the Husband “ratified” the marriage by staying in the marriage after he learned of the Wife’s deception. His request for an annulment will likely fail if the Wife disputes his case. However, the Husband’s claim for an annulment could have succeeded if he had requested the annulment shortly after learning about the Wife’s deception.
Not all potential annulments can be ratified. Marriages that can be ratified are said to be “voidable.” Other marriages are said to be “void.” Examples of void marriages are a marriage to someone who is already married, a marriage to family member (parent or sibling), or a marriage to a minor.
Annulments can be a very complex way to end a marriage. Also, a judge does not have to grant an annulment – even if the spouses agree on the facts of a case. Often, divorce is a less expensive and quicker alternative.