An annulment is the process of canceling a marriage as if the marriage had never taken place. There is a lot of confusion surrounding annulments in North Carolina and the process for annulment varies by state. In fact, there are only limited situations where a marriage can be legally annulled in North Carolina.
There are some misconceptions that you can cancel a marriage within a certain amount of time or if the marriage has not yet been consummated. In North Carolina, there is no time limit that makes a marriage eligible for annulment and not consummating the marriage is also not a basis for annulment.
Generally, voidable marriages can be annulled while void marriages are not valid to begin with. An experienced North Carolina family law attorney can determine whether you are eligible for an annulment and provide other options if you cannot get your marriage annulled.
Void and Voidable Marriages in North Carolina
Void and voidable marriages are marriages that are not considered legal in North Carolina. A void marriage is one that is not considered valid from the start. A voidable marriage is valid for all civil purposes until annulled through an annulment proceeding.
In North Carolina, bigamy is considered void because marrying another person when a spouse is already married is illegal. There is no process required to annul a void marriage and the individuals can go on as if they were never married because the marriage was invalid. Additionally, the individual who was already married may face criminal bigamy charges.
Too Closely Related
Marriages between two persons nearer of kin than first cousins, or between double first cousins, are voidable in North Carolina.
Under the Age of 16
When either or both individuals are under the age of 16, they cannot legally consent to marriage. Marriage with a person under the age of 16 is voidable.
Misrepresentation of Pregnancy
If a couple gets married under the representation that the female partner is pregnant and later turns out not to be pregnant, it is possible to annul the marriage under certain circumstances. The spouses have to separate within 45 days and stay separated for a continuous period of one year. If a child is not born to the parties within 10 months of separation, the marriage can be annulled.
Lack of Capacity
A marriage to a person who is incapable of contracting to marry, generally because of a mental disability or physical impairment, that person cannot legally consent to marriage.
Impotence of either spouse can also be a basis for annulment of the marriage. Petitioning the court for an annulment based on impotence generally requires the diagnosis of a doctor.
Annulment Process in North Carolina
In order to get a marriage declared annulled, a spouse has to file a petition with the court, providing the basis for annulment. The court will hold a hearing to determine whether the marriage is annulled and issue a decision to invalidate or uphold the marriage.
Child Support After Annulment
An annulment generally does not affect the rights and responsibilities of parenthood. Under North Carolina statute § 50-11.1: “A child born of voidable marriage or a bigamous marriage is legitimate notwithstanding the annulment of the marriage.”
Under North Carolina's child support laws, the non-custodial parent is typically required to pay financial support to the other parent. This includes couples who get a divorce, are never married, or have a marriage annulled.
Alimony and Spousal Support After Annulment
Generally, alimony or spousal support is not available after an annulment because it is as if the marriage never occurred. However, the court can award some payment from one party to the other, as a form of post-separation support.
If Not Eligible for Annulment
If a marriage does not qualify with one of the annulment factors above, the couple may need to go through the divorce process to end the marriage. North Carolina is a “no-fault” divorce state, meaning one spouse does not have to show wrongdoing of the other in order to get a divorce. Generally, a divorce requires separation and continuous separate living for one year before the spouse can file for divorce. Talk to your Shelby, North Carolina family law firm about filing for divorce.
Experienced North Carolina Annulment and Divorce Lawyers
An annulment is a faster way to separate but is only available in limited circumstances. If you have any questions about whether your marriage is eligible for an annulment in North Carolina, the skilled attorneys at Caulder & Valentine are here to help. Contact us today for a consultation.