A legal annulment ends a marriage and declares that the marriage was never legally valid. There are only a few, very specific, situations that qualify for a legal annulment. Most people do not qualify to have their marriage legally annulled.
A legal annulment is different from a religious annulment. Some religions have their own official processes to determine whether marriages can be annulled in a religious sense. These annulments have no effect on your legal marriage status and are not related to the court annulment process.
Grounds for annulment
There are six reasons that you could qualify for annulment in Ohio:
- You were under the legal marriage age when you got married, unless you lived together as spouses — or “cohabitated” with your spouse — after the marriage. Legal marriage age in Ohio is 18 for males and 16 for females.
- You or your spouse were legally married to someone else when you got married (called “bigamy”).
- You or your spouse had been declared mentally incompetent when you got married, unless the person was later declared competent and then you lived together as spouses. Being declared incompetent usually means you are not able to make decisions in your own best interest.
- Your consent or your spouse’s consent to the marriage was obtained by fraud, unless the person who was defrauded later learned all the facts and continued to cohabitate with the other spouse. This would mean that one spouse knowingly lied or misrepresented information to the other to get them to agree to the marriage. One example is if a woman told a man she was pregnant with his child if she knew it was not true. Or if one spouse seriously misrepresented their identity.
- Your consent or your spouse’s consent to the marriage was obtained by force, unless afterwards you cohabitated, or lived together as spouses.
- Your marriage was never consummated. This means you never had sexual relations after the marriage.
There are also time limits on some of the grounds for annulment:
- If you were underage: You have two years from the time that you reach legal marriage age to file for annulment.
- If consent was obtained by fraud: You must file within two years of learning all the facts of the fraud.
- If consent was obtained by duress (such as threats or violence): You must file within two years of the marriage.
- If the marriage was never consummated: You must file within two years of the marriage.
To get an annulment in Montgomery County:
- You must have lived in Ohio for at least six months.
- You or your spouse must have lived in Montgomery County for at least 90 days before you file.
In some cases, a third party can file for an annulment of someone else’s marriage:
- If you are under legal marriage age, your parent or guardian can file for annulment of your marriage.
- If you are legally married to someone else, your first spouse can file for annulment of your second marriage.
- If you were declared incompetent at the time of the marriage, a relative or guardian can file for annulment of your marriage.
Spousal support and fees
If you get an annulment, you do not qualify to receive spousal support. You also will likely not qualify to have your lawyer’s fees covered by your spouse.
Child support and paternity
If you get an annulment but have children of the marriage, it does not undo any requirements for paying child support or change the “presumption of paternity,” or assumption that the husband is the father of the child.