A divorce is the most well-known way to end a couple’s marriage, although there are other legal routes available. Legal separation is possible for some couples who want to retain the legal existence of a marriage but separate their assets and living situation. Marriages can also end when they are invalid or discovered to be invalid. In these scenarios, a couple can file for an annulment. A qualified Wichita divorce attorney can help you determine your options for ending your marriage.
An annulment is different from a divorce because it acts as though the marriage never existed in the first place. Few marriages qualify for an annulment. Some couples prefer an annulment due to religious or social reasons, but be aware that a religious annulment and a legal annulment are not the same thing.
An annulment can be quicker than a divorce for some couples, but it can also result in fewer protections for some spouses, including invalidating any existing marital agreements.
Kansas Laws on Annulment
The state court will grant an annulment if the marriage:
- Is void for any reason.
- Is voidable because the contract was entered into under fraud.
The state court may grant an annulment if the marriage was entered into:
- By mistake of fact
- Lack of understanding or knowledge of specific facts
- Any other reasonable cause
Even if a marriage qualifies for an annulment, it may or may not be the right option for separation.
Void Marriages in Wichita
A void marriage is a marriage that is never legally valid. Void marriages in Kansas include:
- Bigamy: When one spouse has a prior marriage that is legally valid, any following marriages are never valid.
- Incest: Spouses who are blood-related cannot marry, including those related as first cousins or any closer relation.
Because these marriages were never legally valid to begin with, spouses do not need to file a court order to obtain an annulment. They automatically qualify to get an annulment.
Voidable Marriages in Wichita
A voidable marriage is one that is not automatically invalid but can be declared invalid by the court. This includes marriages based on fraud, mistake of fact, lack of understanding, or other justifiable reasons. For a court to declare a marriage invalid and allow an annulment, the spouse who is petitioning for the annulment must show proof of the invalidity. An annulment may be granted in marriages such as:
- One or both spouses were 16 or 17 years of age and did not obtain the consent of a guardian or the court to marry.
- A spouse did not have the legal and/or mental capacity to consent to the marriage at the time it was created.
- One spouse used fraud, deception, or misrepresentation of significant facts to get the other spouse to enter into the marriage.
- One spouse was coerced or forced into the marriage.
For a voidable marriage based on fraud or misrepresentation, the hidden information must be significant for an annulment to be granted. For marriages based on fraud or mistake of fact, if the reason for the annulment was discovered, and spouses continued to live together as if married with that knowledge, they may no longer be eligible for annulment.
Legal Implications of an Annulment
A granted annulment means that a couple’s marriage never existed. This is different from a divorce, which creates a date of separation but does not invalidate the prior existing marriage. In some states, this means that there is no property division or support, but that is not the case in Kansas. The judge who annuls a marriage can also order the division of the couple’s property and require a spouse to provide support to another spouse for a period of time.
Q: What Are the Grounds for Annulment in Kansas?
A: The grounds for an annulment in Kansas include:
- An annulment is granted for a marriage that is void for any reason, including bigamy, incest, or lack of testamentary capacity.
- An annulment is granted for a marriage that is voidable due to fraud.
- An annulment may be granted in certain cases when the marriage was entered into due to a mistake, a lack of knowledge, or another reasonable cause.
Very few marriages qualify for annulment, and some marriages that could be voidable find that the annulment process does not properly protect their interests. An attorney can help you make informed decisions about your separation.
Q: What Is an Example of an Invalid Marriage?
A: An invalid marriage, or a void marriage, is one that is invalid from its inception and never considered a valid marriage under state law. If spouses are related by blood, their marriage is invalid. This includes first cousins and any closer relationship. If one or both spouses had a prior marriage that was still valid when they entered into the current marriage, the current one is invalid.
In void marriages, spouses are not required to get a court-ordered annulment, as the marriage is automatically invalid under the law. Spouses can still obtain the annulment through the court if they wish.
Q: Does Kansas Require Separation Before Divorce?
A: Kansas does not require separation before divorce. One or both spouses must have lived in Kansas for 60 days prior to filing for the divorce. Once filed, there is a 60-day waiting period before a divorce can be finalized. If spouses can create a separation agreement during that time, the divorce can be finalized once the waiting period has ended. There are no requirements that spouses must separate prior to filing.
Q: What Is Misrepresentation in Marriage?
A: Fraud and misrepresentation in a marriage can result in a legally invalid marriage, depending on a couple’s specific situation and which state laws govern their union. Many states consider fraud or misrepresentation about any significant fact grounds for annulment.
It is typically up to the court’s discretion whether a fact is significant enough to warrant an annulment. It may need to be a fact that would have mattered to a reasonable person prior to entering into a marriage. This may include lies about existing marriages or fraud about medical conditions.
Determine the Right Option for Your Wichita Separation
If you are unsure whether your marriage qualifies for an annulment, talk with an experienced attorney. An attorney can also help you decide whether a divorce or annulment is the right option for your separation. Contact Stange Law Firm today.