Annulling A Marriage Under Illinois Law
Marriage is a legal contract between two individuals. Pursuant to Illinois law, a valid marriage contract exists when the parties understand the terms of the contract. The court may find a marriage invalid or voidable from the outset of the marriage if the marriage originated by fraud or deceit. If the court finds the marriage invalid or voidable, the couple cannot obtain a divorce and must instead obtain an annulment.
Annulment of A Marriage
An annulment treats the marriage as though it never happened by declaring the marriage legally null and void. The court may grant an annulment when certain situations exist. An annulment turns back time and the court returns the couple to the their respective status before they entered into the marriage. A couple may seek an annulment when fundamental flaws exist within the marriage from its onset. Illinois law, 705 ILCS 5/301, sets forth a limited number of situations in which the court may deem annulment of the marriage as proper. Some of those situations include the following:
- Lack of Capacity to Consent. The parties to the marriage must possess capacity to consent to the marriage. The following conditions may preclude an individual possessing the capacity to consent to the marriage:
- Too young. Parties to a marriage must be 18 years old to enter into a valid marriage. Individuals under the age of 18 must obtain parental authorization to enter into a valid marriage;
- Lack of mental capacity. A person who is insane or lacks the mental capacity to consent to a marriage cannot legally enter into a marriage;
- Under the influence. An altered state of mind due to the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of marriage may serve as grounds for finding a marriage void as the individual’s capacity to consent is impaired by such drugs or alcohol; or
- Under duress. An individual under duress lacks the mental capacity to consent to a marriage.
- Marriage Cannot Be Consummated. When one of the parties to a marriage lacks the ability to consummate the marriage and the other party to the marriage did not know of such inability, the parties can obtain an annulment; and
- Marriage is Prohibited By Law. If the parties entered into the marriage unlawfully, the court may find the marriage invalid and subsequently grant an annulment. Parties may unlawfully enter the marriage when for example, one party is already married or the marriage is between two closely related family members.
Learn More from an Experienced Family and Divorce Attorney
Upon discovering the invalidity of a marriage, the parties should consult with a family law attorney
as soon as possible. The professionals at the Women’s Divorce & Family Law Group can help you to determine whether you are eligible for an annulment and provide you with guidance on how to best proceed. Please call us at (312) 585-6604 to schedule your legal consultation.
There are many factors to consider when contemplating divorce, and a pre-divorce planning session can help you begin to plan for a divorce. Please contact the professionals at the Women’s Divorce & Family Law Group by calling (312) 585-6604 or clicking here to schedule a consultation.