The Meriwether & Tharp Divorce Attorney Blog

Return to the Blog Home Page

Annulment

Should I Consider Annulment?

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

Stock Image 20

Many wonder should they seek divorce once financial, emotional, or other difficulties arise during marriage. However, in Georgia, divorce in not the only way to dissolve a marriage. An annulment voids or invalidates a marriage, and may be sought by parties wishing to terminate a marriage if certain criteria are met. O.C.G.A. § 19-4-1.

Similar to divorce, an annulment will only be granted by a court if there are valid grounds, or basis, for the annulment. In Georgia, grounds for annulment include:

  1. Intermarriage – The parties to the marriage were related to each other, such as a marriage between a father and daughter;
  2. Under Age – One of the parties to the marriage is under 16 years of age;
  3. Lack of Capacity – One of the parties did not have sufficient mental capacity at the time of the marriage;
  4. Bigamy – One of the parties was legally married to someone else at the time of the marriage;
  5. Force – Force, menace, or duress was used to obtain the marriage; and
  6. Fraud – The marriage was obtained due to the fraud of a party.

See O.C.G.A. §§ 19-3-3 to 19-3-5.

With the above in mind, if you are currently party to a marriage that was entered into under force or as a result of fraud, or if you or the other party was underage, lacked mental capacity, married, or related to each other at the time of marriage, an annulment may be the best course of action, because annulments void the marital relationship as if it never existed. O.C.G.A. § 19-4-5. If you believe an annulment is the best option for you based on the facts of your case, speak with an Atlanta divorce attorney to determine if you are eligible to seek an annulment or if seeking a divorce would better suit your circumstances.

Is Failure to Consummate the Marriage Grounds for Annulment?

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

No. Not in Georgia anyway. As Georgia divorce attorneys we have often found that it is a common misnomer that failure to consummate a marriage is grounds for an annulment. Although this may be true in some states, just as laws concerning other areas of the law vary from state to state, divorce and other domestic relations laws often vary from state to state too. In fact, it is very common for divorce laws to vary widely between states. This is why it is imperative for those considering divorce in Georgia to consult an attorney who is familiar with the specific requirements and distinctions in Georgia divorce law.

Back to the question at hand though, failure to consummate is not a grounds for annulment in Georgia, but there are six other reasons that a couple may seek an annulment according to the state law. These grounds include:

1) intermarriage between the parties, such intermarriage between a father and daughter;

2) one of the parties is under 16 years of age;

3) one of the parties did not have sufficient mental capacity at the time of the marriage;

4) one of the parties was committing bigamy, meaning one spouse was married to someone else at the time of the marriage;

5) force, menace, or duress was used in obtaining the marriage; and

6) fraud.

See generally O.C.G.A. §19-3-3; 19-3-4; 19-3-5. 

Georgia Annulment

Monday, May 13th, 2013

A person has two options to end a marriage in Georgia – annulment or divorce. An annulment is much harder to come by and may only be granted in the case of a marriage declared void by law.OCGA §19-4-1. In Georgia, “marriages of persons unable to contract, unwilling to contract, or fraudulentlyinduced to contract shall be void.” OCGA §19-3-5(a). Thus, a person may get an annulment if he/she canprove the marriage is void for one of the above reasons. However, in the case of a spouse unwilling to conrtact or fraudulently induced into contract, a subsequent consent and ratification of themarriage, freely and voluntarily made, accompanied by cohabitation as husband and wife shall render the marriage valid.” OCGA §19-3-5(b). In that situation, an annulment would not be granted and the person’s only option for endingthe marriage is divorce.

In addition, Georgia law is clear that an annulment may not be granted “in instances where children are born or are to be born as a result of the marriage.” OCGA §19-4-1.

If an annulment is granted, it “shall have the effect of a total divorce between the parties of a void marriage and shall return the parties thereto to their original status before marriage.”OCGA §19-4-5. The main difference is the parties will walk away as if the marriage never happened, as opposed todivorce where there may be equitable division and/or alimony.

What Constitutes Fraud Sufficient to Obtain an Annulment in Georgia?

Friday, January 18th, 2013

There are six grounds that a couple or an individual may assert in order to receive an annulment in Georgia. The grounds for annulment in Georgia include: 1) intermarriage between the parties,such intermarriage between a father and daughter; 2) one of the parties is under 16 years of age; 3) one of the parties did not have sufficient mental capacity at the time of the marriage; 4) oneof the parties was committing bigamy, meaning one spouse was married to someone else at the time of the marriage; 5) force, menace, or duress was used in obtaining the marriage; and 6) fraud. Seegenerally O.C.G.A. §19-3-3; 19-3-4; 19-3-5. InGeorgia, it is most common for annulments to be based on the latter two grounds. Although it may be simple to conceive of an instance of force, menace or duress that should result in anannulment, for instance if one party intimidates the other party into marriage with a threat of death or physical bodily harm, it is more difficult to imagine what type of fraudulent behaviorwould result in the annulment of a marriage.

According to the Official Code of Georgia:

a) Marriages of persons unable to contract, unwilling to contract, or fraudulently induced to contract shall be void. However, the issue of such a marriage born before the marriage is annulledand declared void by a competent court shall be legitimate.

(b) In the case of persons unwilling to contract or fraudulently induced to do so, a subsequent consent and ratification of the marriage, freely and voluntarily made, accompanied by cohabitationas husband and wife shall render the marriage valid…

O.C.G.A. 19-3-5. “To constitute an actual contract of marriage, the parties must consent theretovoluntarily without any fraud practiced upon either. Drunkenness at the time of marriage, brought about by art or contrivance to induce consent shall be held as fraud.” O.C.G.A. 19-3-4. Additionally, “all contracts or bonds made to hinder or to force marriage are deemedfraudulent and void.” O.C.G.A. 19-3-7.

The statutory law outlined above suggests that marriages entered into as a result of a contract forcing the parties to marry or as a result of one party’s drunkenness are invalid and subject toannulment. See also Baxter v. Rogers, 195 Ga. 274 (1943). Additionally, Georgia case law suggests that if a husband is induced to marry after being told by his wife that she was pregnantwith his child, when in fact the child is not his, this may be sufficient for annulment based on fraud. See Reynolds v. Reynolds, 153 Ga. 490 (1922). Annulments based on the ground offraud or fraudulent inducement may be granted on other fact patterns as well. In order to learn if an annulment is the best option for your situation, please contact one of our family law professionals.

By A. Latrese Martin, Associate Attorney, Meriwether & Tharp, LLC

What are the Georgia requirements for getting an annulment?

Monday, November 10th, 2008

Fairly frequently, people call our office attempting to get an annulment of their marriage rather than a divorce. Often we find, however, that the caller is not eligible for a annulment. Thereason why is that you can only seek to obtain an annulment for certain specific grounds.

In Georgia, there are six grounds for granting an annulment in Georgia. Four of these grounds fall into a category of unique cases, specifically: 1) intermarriage between the parties (such asfather/daughter, etc); 2) one of the parties is under 16 years of age; 3) one of the parties did not have the mental capacity at the time of the marriage; 4) one of the parties was committingbigamy (i.e. one spouse was married to someone else at the time of the marriage). Outside of these four unique factual circumstances, there are really only two grounds for annulment that arecommonly used in Georgia: 1) Force, menace, or duress was used in obtaining the marriage; 2) Fraud.

Kim Kardashian divorce case – what would happen in Georgia?

Saturday, December 1st, 2007

When celebrity family law cases make national news, clients often wonder how the case would turn out in Georgia. In a celebrity family law case currently gripping the headlines, Kim Kardashianand Kris Humphries are now battling over whether their 72-day marriage will end in divorce or annulment. Kim Kardashian ‘doesn’t want a battle’ with Kris Humphries: Source, by Jennifer Garcia, PEOPLE.com, December 2, 2011. Though Kardashian filed for divorce to end their marriage, Humphries has filed foran annulment on the grounds of fraud. If the parties obtain an annulment, it will be as if the marriage never happened.

In California, like in Georgia, fraud is grounds for an annulment. However, in both states,the fraud must be proven, not just alleged, or an annulment cannot be granted. Though there is speculation in the media about the fraud in this marriage, Humphries must come with facts, not just speculation in order to be granted an annulment. If the fraud cannot be proven, the marriage will end in divorce. The same would happen in Georgia. It will be interesting to see how this one turns out, and whether the divorce/annulment action lasts longer than the marriage itself.