As Florida family law attorneys we often get calls from prospective clients about whether they are eligible for an annulment rather than a divorce. The actual court procedure and end-effect of a divorce and annulment are very different, which can be confusing to many people. A divorce is a court declaration that a marriage existed and due to irretrievable differences has come to an end. An annulment, on the other hand, is based on a claim that the marriage was never legal, it was fraudulent in some way, or because of some type of compelling circumstance the marriage was never real. In Florida there are only a certain number of reasons that a legal annulment can be obtained.
Not all marriages are legally allowed or recognized, which are known as prohibited marriages. These prohibited marriages include marriages between people that are related by lineal connection including, sisters, aunts, nieces, brothers, uncles, and nephews. Florida also does not recognize common law marriages, which are marriages in which people that have been together for an extended amount of time claim they are in, and bigamous marriages. Currently, marriages between same sex couples fall into this category of prohibited marriages, but this is subject to change due to ongoing litigation. None of these prohibited marriages, regardless of where they were entered into, will be recognized in the state of Florida.
Other grounds for annulment in Florida include: lack of consent due to mental incapacity; lack of consent due to influence of alcohol or drugs; lack of parental consent when one spouse was underage; lack of consummation of the marriage; and one spouse used fraudulent acts or misrepresentations to obtain the consent of the other spouse. In those cases that are not based on a lack of consent of one of the parties the court will often look to see how long the marriage took to dissolve. For instance, the longer the marriage the more difficult it is to establish a claim of fraud.
The annulment process, if the marriage qualifies for one, can be much more complex than a divorce but will have the effect of showing as if you were never married.
How We Can Help
If you, a friend or a family member find themselves in a situation such as this, please call the Law Office of Scott A. Ferris, P.A. at 305 670-3330 right away. Scott A. Ferris, Esq. is a licensed family law attorney who has been practicing law since 1987. He is available whenever you need him to pursue your rights. Please learn about our firm at www.FerrisLawFirm.com.