Too often, a couple becomes engaged and spends so much time planning the wedding, they forget a marriage follows once the last piece of wedding cake is eaten and the last gift unwrapped. After just a few months, or even weeks of married life, a couple may realize they don’t really know their spouse and can’t imagine living life together. As a result, one or both spouses decide to end the marriage.
Thanks to Hollywood movies and celebrity culture, couples who have been married only a short time believe they can dissolve their marriage through an annulment rather than a divorce. Annulments can often be faster, less painful, and less expensive, leading many potential clients to call and inquire of a divorce attorney whether or not they too can get a quick and easy annulment. Unfortunately, Hollywood is not the majority of the United States and it certainly is not Virginia.
Under the laws of Virginia, a couple may have their marriage annulled based on just a few narrow grounds:
1) when a marriage is void (that is, the spouses were not legally allowed to marry in Virginia, such as first degree blood relatives, or same sex couples) or voidable upon proof of fraud or duress in getting married to begin with;
2) when there exists a natural or incurable impotency of body at the time of the marriage ;
3) when either husband or wife was convicted of a felony at the time of the marriage without the knowledge of the other spouse of such conviction;
4) when at the time of the marriage, the wife was with child by another man without the knowledge of the husband;
5) when at the time of the marriage, the husband had fathered a child born to another woman within ten months of the date of marriage without the knowledge of the wife; or
6) when either spouse was a prostitute prior to the marriage without the knowledge of the other spouse.
Not only are these grounds for an annulment already narrow and precise, the law further constricts access to an annulment by prohibiting an annulment if : a spouse continues to cohabitate with their spouse after learning one of the above facts, or that the parties were married for two years prior to bringing a suit for annulment.
In the end, any person contemplating an annulment should consult with an attorney regarding the options available to them and Virginia citizens should be prepared to proceed with a divorce rather than an annulment.
The attorneys at Winslow & McCurry, PLLC are available for consultation on annulment, divorce and other family law issues that arise. Call us today at (804)423-1382.