Once in awhile I get a call from a potential client about whether to pursue an annulment in Connecticut or file for divorce.
A divorce terminates a valid marriage. So if the marriage is legit then divorce is the only option.
An annulment on the other hand is a legal finding that the marriage never existed because it was never valid. The marriage was never legit.
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:
- Marriages between individuals within a certain degree of kinship – close relatives
- One the parties to marriage were already married – bigamy
- Qualifications regarding the person performing the wedding ceremony
- Fraud or duress existed at the time the marriage was entered into.
Annulments in Connecticut do occur but they are pretty rare. Here’s why:
First, in Connecticut we have “no fault” divorce. Therefore, a spouse can be granted a divorce simply based on “irretrievable breakdown” without getting into fingering pointing.
Secondly, take a look again at the list of annulment grounds. Those types of claims are unusual. And without those established facts, you cannot get an annulment.
Finally, there is a strong public policy in Connecticut that marriages are valid. Basically, marriages are presumed to be legit. So, annulment grounds have to proven by “clear and convincing evidence.” This is a higher standard than the typical standard required for a divorce.
Connecticut courts generally can make the same orders whether it’s an annulment or a divorce. One minor difference is that the ninety-day waiting period applicable to a divorce does not apply to an annulment.
If grounds do exist for an annulment, a spouse should weigh the cost involved and the emotional aspects of proving the case. In some instances, the better approach might be straightforward divorce.