Unfortunately there are times following a marriage that parties realize that their marriage is not going to work. When this happens within a relatively short time following the marriage, we are often asked by clients, “Can’t I just get an annulment?” In North Carolina, annulments are only granted based on limited circumstances set forth by statute. Those circumstances include:
· When the parties are first cousins or closer in relation;
· When one of the parties was under the age of 16 at the time of the marriage, unless there is a court order in place, the female party is pregnant or there is a child born of the marriage;
· When one of the parties is already married and is not been legally divorced;
· When one of the parties is physically impotent (as diagnosed by a doctor) at the time of the marriage;
· When one of the parties is unable to contract from want of will or understanding; and
· When the marriage was entered into under the guise that the female partner to the marriage is pregnant, the parties separated within 45 days of the marriage and have remained separate, and no child was born to the marriage within 10 months.
If the reason for your request for an annulment does not fit into one of the above categories, you will likely not be entitled to an annulment and will have to separate from your spouse and wait one full year before you can file for divorce. Even if your believe your situation falls into one of the above categories, if following the marriage the parties cohabited and a child was born, the marriage cannot be annulled unless one of the parties was previously married and is not legally divorced. Annulments are viewed on a case by case basis and rely heavily on the facts in existence in your situation. If you have questions about your marriage, it is best to contact a family law attorney to assist you in evaluating your options for ending your marriage, whether it be through an annulment or through a divorce. Contact one of our family law attorneys today for a consultation if you have questions regarding your case.