annulment in north carolina

When it comes to the dissolution of a marriage, I get the following inquiry all of the time.

I have been married to my spouse for just a short time.  Things are not working out at all.  Can I get an annulment?  In most cases, my answer is, it depends.  I need more information than that given above.  After I receive more information, usually, the answer to whether an annulment can be obtained is no. The fact is annulments in North Carolina are given under very limited circumstances.  So what are annulments, and why are they so difficult to obtain?

Annulments are judicial decrees that declare that a marriage never took place.

In this state, only void or voidable marriages can be annulled.  A void marriage is one that is unlawful and invalid.  These marriages are not recognized from the beginning.  A voidable marriage is one that is valid until it is declared invalid.  A marriage can be annulled if:

1) either party was already married at the time of the marriage (bigamy)
2) either party was incompetent at the time of the marriage
3) the parties to the marriage are nearer of kin than first cousins
4) the marriage was entered into under the belief that the female was pregnant, and the parties separate within 45 days of the marriage and no child was born within 10 lunar months of the date of separation
5) impotence
6) either party was underage and lacked parental consent.

The only void marriages in North Carolina are those that are bigamous. The other marriages stated above are voidable and can also be annulled. If your circumstances do not meet the above stated criteria, you do not qualify for annulment, but you can still obtain a divorce in North Carolina.  North Carolina is a no-fault divorce jurisdiction.  As such, divorce in this state simply requires living separate and apart from your spouse for one year with the intent to end the marriage.  One of parties will also need to be a NC resident for the 6 months immediately preceding the divorce.

There are also a number of procedural hurdles to jump through in order to secure the divorce.  For starters, the spouse seeking the divorce will have to provide proper notice of the divorce action to the other spouse.  If the other spouse does not appear in the divorce action, the spouse seeking the divorce must also provide proof to the court that the unavailable spouse is not deployed by the armed services. If you are thinking about annulment or divorce, I would encourage you to speak with a qualified family law attorney right away.

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