Annulment and dissolution of marriage (divorce) are fundamentally different.
A divorce terminates an otherwise valid marriage.
An annulment is a legal finding that the marriage never existed because it was never valid. Depending on the grounds for the annulment, the marriage would be either be considered void (automatic invalid) or voidable (marriage is valid until a spouse requests an annulment).
Some grounds for annulment in Connecticut include:
1. Marriages between individuals within a certain degree of kinship – close relatives.
2. One the parties to marriage were already married – bigamy.
3. Qualifications regarding the person performing the wedding ceremony.
4. Fraud or duress existed at the time the marriage was entered into.
Annulments in Connecticut are rare for several reasons.
First, with the advent of “no fault” divorce a spouse can be granted a divorce simply based on “irretrievable breakdown.”
Secondly, the grounds to obtain an annulment are very specific and the underlying facts extraordinary.
Finally, there is a strong public policy that marriages are valid rather than void or voidable. As a result, grounds for an annulment must be proved by “clear and convincing evidence.” This is a higher standard than the standard required for a divorce.
With only a few exceptions, courts have the same authority and may enter the same types of orders whether the matter is based of an annulment or divorce. One difference is that the ninety-day waiting period applicable to a divorce does not apply to an annulment.