Annulment is not an alternative to divorce. An annulment is actually a legal process that retroactively declares a marriage null and void. When a person annuls his or her marriage, he or she is allowed to legally claim that he or she was never married. Texas has several grounds for the annulment of a marriage, but many of these grounds also involve other requirements, including if the parties were under 18 at the time of the marriage.
If you want to try to annul your marriage in Harris County, it is in your best interest to make sure that you have legal representation. Our divorce lawyers in Houston are committed to helping you achieve the most desirable possible resolution to your case. You can have our attorneys provide a complete evaluation of your case when you call (832) 530-4070 to schedule a free, confidential consultation.
Harris County Annulment Information Center
Grounds for Annulment in Texas
We have all heard of shotgun weddings or people drunkenly getting married at a drive-through chapel in Las Vegas only to realize their mistake the next day. An annulment is essentially a legal declaration that there was never a valid marriage in the first place. Inebriated mistakes are not the only grounds for an annulment. In Texas, the following are acceptable grounds for annulment under the Texas Family Code:
Annulment of Marriage of Person Under Age 18
Applies to marriage of a person 16 years of age or older but under 18 years of age that occurred without parental consent or without a court order. A petition under this section can be filed by a next friend for the benefit of the underage party (within 90 days after the date of the marriage), a parent, or the judicially designated managing conservator or guardian of the person of the underage party, whether an individual, authorized agency, or court.
Under Influence of Alcohol Or Narcotics
Applies to marriage if at the time of the marriage the petitioner was under the influence of alcoholic beverages or narcotics and as a result did not have the capacity to consent to the marriage, and the petitioner has not voluntarily cohabited with the other party to the marriage since the effects of the alcoholic beverages or narcotics ended.
Applies to marriage if either party, for physical or mental reasons, was permanently impotent at the time of the marriage, the petitioner did not know of the impotency at the time of the marriage, and the petitioner has not voluntarily cohabited with the other party since learning of the impotency.
Fraud, Duress, or Force
Applies to marriage if the other party used fraud, duress, or force to induce the petitioner to enter into the marriage and the petitioner has not voluntarily cohabited with the other party since learning of the fraud or since being released from the duress or force.
Applies to marriage on the suit of the party or the party’s guardian or next friend, if the court finds it to be in the party’s best interest to be represented by a guardian or next friend, if at the time of the marriage the petitioner did not have the mental capacity to consent to marriage or to understand the nature of the marriage ceremony because of a mental disease or defect, and since the marriage ceremony, the petitioner has not voluntarily cohabited with the other party during a period when the petitioner possessed the mental capacity to recognize the marriage relationship. The court may grant an annulment of a marriage to a party to the marriage if:
- at the time of the marriage the other party did not have the mental capacity to consent to marriage or to understand the nature of the marriage ceremony because of a mental disease or defect;
- at the time of the marriage the petitioner neither knew nor reasonably should have known of the mental disease or defect; and
- since the date the petitioner discovered or reasonably should have discovered the mental disease or defect, the petitioner has not voluntarily cohabited with the other party.
Applies to marriage if the other party was divorced from a third party within the 30-day period preceding the date of the marriage ceremony; at the time of the marriage ceremony the petitioner did not know, and a reasonably prudent person would not have known, of the divorce; and since the petitioner discovered or a reasonably prudent person would have discovered the fact of the divorce, the petitioner has not voluntarily cohabited with the other party. A suit may not be brought under this section after the first anniversary of the date of the marriage.
Marriage Less Than 72 Hours After Issuance of License
Applies to marriage if the marriage ceremony took place during the 72-hour period immediately following the issuance of the marriage license, but a suit may not be brought under this section after the 30th day after the date of the marriage.
Additional reasons a marriage may be declared void under Texas law include:
- Consanguinity – Consanguinity means blood relations and is commonly referred to as incest. This would annul marriage between parents and their children, siblings, and aunts and uncles marrying their nieces or nephews.
- Marriage During Existence of Prior Marriage
- Marriage to Minor
- Marriage to Stepchild or Stepparent
Annulment Process in Texas
After a person determines his or her legal grounds for seeking an annulment, he or she will need to complete an Original Petition to Annul Marriage. One of the parties needs to reside in Texas or the couple must have married in Texas in order for the marriage to be annulled in Texas.
When a person files a petition to annul a marriage, the spouse will be served with the initial papers. The spouse will have 20 days to file an answer.
If a spouse does not file an answer before the deadline, the petitioner can move to finish the case by default. A case cannot be finished by default when a spouse does file an answer.
The spouse will need to agree to sign a Decree of Annulment, and the process may become contested if the spouse refuses to sign. In an annulment lawsuit in Texas, the spouses involved can decide whether they want their case heard by a jury. The burden of proof in an annulment case is a preponderance of the evidence, meaning the greater weight of the evidence—a lower standard than the beyond a reasonable doubt standard used in criminal cases.
Harris County Annulment Resources
Texas Family Code | Grounds For Annulment — View the full text of the state laws in Texas under Title 1, Subtitle C, Chapter 6, Subchapter B of the Texas Family Code relating to annulment. The statutes in this section specific circumstance in which a court can grant the annulment of a marriage. You can learn more about declaring a marriage void by view related statutes in Subchapter C.
(Void/Annul Marriage) I want to annul or void my marriage. | TexasLawHelp.org — Primarily supported by funds from the Texas Access to Justice Foundation, TexasLawHelp.org is dedicated to providing free, reliable legal information to low-income Texans. Use this website to find instructions and forms for an agreed annulment without children as well as a default annulment of marriage without children. You can find answers to frequently asked questions.
Contact an Annulment Lawyer in Houston, TX
Are you hoping to annul your marriage in Southeast Texas? You should contact The Gonzalez Law Group for legal assistance. Our Houston divorce attorneys represent individuals in communities throughout Harris County, Friendswood, Pearland, Seabrook, League City, Deer Park, Pasadena, La Porte, Galena Park, Baytown, and many others. Call (832) 530-4070 or fill out an online contact form to have our lawyers review your case and answer all of your legal questions during a free initial consultation.