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.

Religious Annulment

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.


Minnesota Budget Cuts Will Impact Courts and Consumers

 Budget Cuts for Minnesota Courts

The news from the Governor’s Desk is quite mixed for the judicial system.  The budget signed into law from Governor Pawlenty did contain some minor budget cuts for the Minnesota Courts.  The Courts were already operating on a very slim budget, so the cuts will affect services.   To minimize the impact on consumers of judicial services, the Courts intend to implement some fairly significant increases in filing fees.  


No Sales Tax on Legal Services

Also on the legislative radar this year was the imposition of a sales tax on legal services.  It did not pass.  Such a tax would have presented a great hardship to individuals seeking legal representation.  Not only would the tax have increased every legal bill in Minnesota by the sales tax percentage, but it would have increased overhead for attorneys who are unaccustomed to sales tax reporting and collections.  Overhead is the primary determinant of the price of legal services.  


Minnesota Court Funding

Full coverage of the court funding issues in Minnesota is at http://www.1000supporters.org/

Jennifer Moore
Moore Family Law, P.A.
Plymouth, MN

Divorce, Valuation Dates, and Finances


Consider for a moment that you and your spouse decided to divorce in May of 2007, separated your households and began living apart, but you did not file for divorce until May of 2009.  You know that your house is worth less than it was worth two years ago.  You may even be under water on the house now, whereas two years ago, you may have had $20,000 or $30,000 worth of equity in your home.  What date is used to value the house in a divorce?


Under Minnesota law, the valuation date is presumed to be the date of the first regularly scheduled pretrial hearing.  However, parties to a divorce can agree to use a different valuation date.  More importantly, a different valuation date can be used by the Court if it finds that the alternative valuation date is more fair and equitable under the circumstances.   This used to be an issue that was rarely litigated, but with the global economic crisis affecting the value of houses and retirement assets so dramatically, it is now a topic of divorce litigation in almost all of my cases here in Minnesota. 


There are ways around the issue.  For example, with retirement and investment assets, parties can agree to simply split the asset equally without placing a value on the asset.  Or, parties can trade similar assets that have been affected equally by the economy without placing a value on either asset.   What you can work out depends of course on how much cooperation you can get from the opposing party.

 Jennifer Moore
Moore Family Law, P.A.