Like divorce, annulment is a method of legally ending a marriage. However, while annulment is similar to divorce in many regards, it arises under different circumstances and has different legal consequences than divorce.
Unlike divorce, which terminates a legally valid marriage, annulment addresses legal defects that existed when the marriage was formed and caused the marriage to be voidable. A voidable marriage is not automatically invalid, but can be declared invalid by the court upon the request of a spouse. After annulment, in most respects it is as though the marriage never existed.
Grounds for Annulment in Nevada
The grounds for annulment vary from state to state. In Nevada, a marriage can potentially be annulled if:
- A spouse under the age of 18 failed to obtain parental consent for the marriage and seeks annulment before reaching the age of 19
- A spouse was incapable of consenting to the marriage because of a lack of understanding resulting from factors such as intoxication, mental disability or insanity
- A spouse consented to the marriage on the basis of fraud, such as the other spouse's concealment of a secret intent not to have children
Because the law views marriage as a civil contract, a marriage in Nevada may also be annulled on legal grounds for contractual failure such as mutual mistake, duress or undue influence.
In addition to the grounds for annulment outlined above, Nevada state law provides that certain prohibited marriages are automatically void. A marriage performed in Nevada is void if:
- The parties are blood relatives closer than second cousins
- Either party is currently married to a previous living spouse
A void marriage is distinct from a voidable marriage, which is considered legally valid unless a spouse seeks to have the marriage annulled.
Limitations on Annulment
Even if an initial basis for annulment is present, other factors may limit a couple's ability to have a marriage annulled in Nevada. For instance, a court may be unwilling to grant annulment on the basis of fraud if the couple willingly continued to live together as husband and wife after the fraud was revealed.
Because the laws governing the dissolution of marriage in Nevada can be quite complex, it is important to seek legal advice from a competent family law attorney when considering a divorce or annulment.