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Can the Florida Courts Annul a Marriage?


Most people think of divorce as a legal matter and annulment as a religious one. Christians, for example, may consider annulling a marriage if the couple never consummated the marriage (ie: had sexual intercourse). The courts seldom concern themselves with what goes on in a couple’s bedroom. But there are reasons that the court will consider to annul a marriage. In these cases, the court rules that the marriage effectively never occurred. In this article, the Tampa, FL divorce attorneys at Westchase Law, P.A. will discuss the legal concept of annulment and how to pursue an annulment in Florida.

What is a marriage annulment? 

The secular and religious definitions of a marriage annulment are essentially similar. Under Florida law, an annulment occurs when the court declares that a couple’s marriage was never valid. In other words, it is as if the marriage never took place. This is different from a divorce. In a divorce, a judge rules that the marriage was real, but now it’s over or legally terminated. Under the law, a marriage begins on the day of the wedding and ends on the day that the court issues a divorce decree. All decisions rendered by the court take into account these dates.

On the other hand, an annulment is when the court declares that the couple was never actually legally married. In other words, the marriage was never valid in the first place. In terms of paternity, the “husband” would maintain his status as the children’s legal father and would not have to take any further action to establish paternity.

Florida rules concerning annulment are found in our state’s case law and not in any statutes or the state’s constitution. Case law determines that some marriages are voidable while others are not. A marriage is considered void if there was a circumstance that, had the court known about it, then it would have never legally recognized the marriage. One example of a void marriage is if the spouses are close blood relatives or if one spouse was legally married to another individual at the time they married their second spouse. A marriage may be voidable under a number of circumstances. These include:

  • When one party coerced the other party into the marriage or exercised undue duress on the other party to actuate the marriage.
  • When one spouse was unable to consent to the marriage (ie: too ill or intoxicated to understand his or her actions at the time of marrying).
  • When a spouse younger than the age of 18 enters into a marriage without the consent of their parent or legal guardian.

Talk to a Tampa, FL Family Law Attorney Today 

The Tampa, FL family lawyers at Westchase Law, P.A. represent the interests of couples who are going through a divorce. Call our office today to schedule an appointment, and we can begin discussing your next steps right away.

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