When celebrities wake up in Las Vegas with a wedding ring and then, hours later, the couple is filing to legally annul the marriage, they are asking a court to determine that the marriage never really existed. However, annulments are not reserved for celebrities or marriages of short duration. Instead, annulment represents a legal option available to anyone who meets very specific standards set forth in each state. In Missouri, the law requires certain grounds for an annulment and a compelling argument to prove the elements in order for the court to determine the marriage void and grant an annulment.
A court in Missouri can grant an annulment if:
- The husband and wife are related
- Either the husband or the wife did not satisfy the age requirement of 15 years and did not obtain judicial consent
- Either the husband or the wife lacked the mental capacity to make the decision due to various issues including intoxication, insanity, and unconsciousness
- Either the husband or the wife only consented to the marriage because he or she was under duress
- The marriage was fraudulent or one party lied about being sexually impotent, possessing a sexually transmitted disease, or another issue essential to the marital relationship
- The marriage was “common law” (the couple never had a ceremony or obtained a license)
- The marital parties are of the same sex
- Either the husband or the wife was legally married to another person at the time of marriage
All of these grounds for annulment describe marriages that are void from the inception (although the issue of same sex marriage is a question which will be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court by July of 2015). These are marriages which do not need to be dissolved (the action you file to get divorced) because they were never validly formed; instead, the marriage must be annulled. In Missouri, the burden is placed on the person requesting the annulment who asserts the marriage is invalid, and they must prove their case by clear, convincing, and cogent proof.
Due to the complicated underpinnings that characterize annulment, it is important to seek the advice of an experienced attorney. At Paule Camazine & Blumenthal P.C., our skillful attorneys are extremely knowledgeable regarding annulments and are available to assist clients in moving forward.