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Annulment of Marriage in Kentucky

OVERVIEW OF ANNULMENT IN KENTUCKY

An annulment is different from a divorce.  Essentially, a divorce ends a marriage while an annulment means no valid marriage ever existed. If your marriage was legally invalid from the start, you may be eligible to have your marriage annulled.  Importantly, other than void marriages, annulment must be filed within 90 days after the marriage.

Grounds For an Annulment

You must have a legal ground or reason for your marriage to be annulled in Kentucky. Generally, your marriage may be annulled if any of the following circumstances was present at the time of the marriage:

  • one spouse was unable to consent to the marriage
  • one spouse was forced into the marriage
  • one spouse defrauded the other spouse about something essential to the marriage
  • one spouse was impotent (incapable of sexual intercourse)
  • the couple is more closely related than second cousin (incest)
  • one spouse was already married at the time of the second marriage (bigamy), or
  • one spouse was underage at the time of the marriage (under 18).

Courts may also grant annulments for any other reason that a judge believes justifies setting aside the marriage

Consent

A spouse is unable to consent to marriage if they are unable to understand what the marriage means. The spouse must have been unable to consent at the time of the marriage. Mental disability can be a reason that a spouse can't consent to the marriage, but the disability must be severe enough that the person did not understand what marriage means. A person who is intoxicated may also be unable to consent to a marriage. The court won't grant an annulment unless there is very convincing evidence that a spouse couldn't consent to the marriage.

Fraud

Fraud must be significant to be a ground to annul a marriage, and it must be directly related to the marriage itself. For example, in Kentucky, courts have annulled marriages based on a wife lying about being pregnant to convince her husband to marry. On the other hand, courts have refused to annul a marriage when a wife did not tell her husband that she had an illegitimate child.

Underage Spouse

If one party is under 18 when he or she is married, but continues to live with the other spouse after reaching 18, the marriage can no longer be annulled.

Statute of Limitations

Kentucky has a statute of limitations deadline that applies to annulments. If you believe your divorce should be annulled because of force, duress or fraud, you have to file for an annulment within 90 days of finding out about the reason for the annulment. If the marriage is being annulled because of incest, bigamy or mental disability, you have to file for annulment within a year of discovering the reason for the annulment.

How Do I Get an Annulment?

In Kentucky, you will need to file a Petition for Annulment of Marriage in the circuit court for the county where either you or your spouse live. Kentucky does not have forms for said filings and it is highly adviseable that you hire an attorney to assist you in filing and through the process.

Your petition for annulment must include certain information, such as both spouses' names, addresses, dates of birth, occupation and how long each spouse has lived in Kentucky. You need to provide the date of the marriage, and whether any children were born from the marriage. You also need to state the legal ground supporting the annulment.

You will have a hearing before a judge who must decide if you have proven that your marriage should be annulled. If the judge is convinced, the judge will sign an order granting an annulment of your marriage.

Effect of an Annulment

When an annulment is granted, it means you and your spouse were never legally married. After an order of annulment, both spouses can say that there was never a marriage between them.  It is important to know other rights before deciding whether to file for annulment v. dissolution.  Essentially, there is no right to alimony or property division after an annulment and if a child was born, you may need a separate action for custody and support.

HELP

For the full text of the law on annulment in Kentucky, see the Kentucky Revised HELPStatutes, 403.120

For Help with Annulment, Dissolution or Divorce in Kentucky, call an experienced family law attorney.  For consultation in Northern Kentucky, contact Michael Bouldin at [email protected] or call 859-581-6453 (581-MIKE).

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