What is an Annulment?
March 15, 2010
By Jennifer Moore, Family Law Attorney
What Makes a Marriage Valid in Minnesota
In order to obtain a marriage license in the state of Minnesota:
- The marriage must be between a man and a woman.
- If you were married before you must show that your previous marriage was legally terminated.
- Applicants between the ages of 15-18 must have parental consent.
Valid marriages must be presided over by state-approved personnel (usually judges or ordained ministers who have registered as such with their county vital statistics offices), and have two witnesses over the age of 16.
Void Marriages in Minnesota – Marriages That Are Annulled by Law
If any of these requirements are not met, the marriage is void, and the Court will issue an annulment that provides that the marriage was void.
Voidable Marriages in Minnesota – Marriages That May Be Annulled
There are also certain situations in which the Court may find that the marriage should be annulled, including:
- Mental illness- petitioner would have 90 days to file from the point where they discovered this condition.
- Outside influences that impaired judgment were present at the time of the ceremony (drugs or alcohol) – petitioner would have 90 days to file from the point where they discovered this was a factor.
- Impotence or an inability to have a physical relationship- petitioner would have one year to file from the point where they discovered this condition.
- One party was underage- petitioner would have until the date that the underage party reaches legal marriage age.
In these circumstances, the marriage is considered voidable within a certain period of time. If a party does not seek an annulment within that time frame, the right to an annulment is lost.
There are also religious annulments. You should contact your church for information about those. However, this type of annulment has no legal consequences, and therefore no legal effect on your family situation.
Annulment is NOT a “Get Out Of Jail Free Card”
Sometimes people mistakenly believe that an annulment will relieve them of the obligation to divide certain property or pay certain support. This may not be true, however, since Minnesota recognizes “putative marriage,” which means that if the couple lives together, believing in good faith that they were married, they are entitled to the same rights to assets and property as if they were married.