Pennsylvania Family Law and Divorce
Lisa Marie Vari & Associates, P.C.

What is an Annulment? How is this different than a Pennsylvania Divorce?

Our Western Pennsylvania Family Law firm brings you some information regarding Marriage Annulments in Pennsylvania:

Often in the media or outside of the legal community, the words "divorce" and "annulment" are used interchangeably. However, under Pennsylvania law, these two legal terms are very different. Whereas a couple who is validly married can obtain a divorce in Pennsylvania, an annulment is done when the marriage itself is considered void. Thus, there are certain grounds under PA law whereby an annulment can be granted based on the circumstances surrounding the parties' marriage.

Before discussing how to challenge a marriage as void under Pennsylvania Law, one must determine how a marriage is validated in the state. Often, engaged couples forget that although a marriage ceremony and reception is a big event in their lives, there are also legal formalities that are underlying the entire marriage process. The requirements in Pennsylvania are that a couple receive a marriage license, and have a ceremony. Basically, although the marriage ceremony is something couples almost always choose to solemnize their vows, it is actually required by law to have two witnesses to a marriage for it to be valid in Pennsylvania.

Marriages can be either void or voidable under PA law. If a marriage falls into the "void" category, then the marriage is automatically void and will be annulled. This occurs when one of the parties is still in an existing marriage, the spouses are related in some way, one spouse lacked consent to the marriage, or either party was under the age of 18 at the time of marriage.

A marriage may be annulled, but is not automatically annulled, when it falls into the "voidable" category. Voidable marriages include those where:

  • Either spouse was under 16, unless the marriage was authorized by the court.
  • Either party was 16 or 17 and lacked the consent of a parent/guardian or express authorization of the court. The parties can get around this by ratifying the marriage when they reach the age of 18.
  • Either party to the marriage was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and an annulment action is brought within 60 days of the marriage ceremony.
  • Either party to the marriage, at the time of the marriage and presently still is, naturally and incurably impotent, unless the condition was known to the other party prior to the marriage.
  • One of the parties to the marriage was induced to enter into the marriage through use of fraud, duress, coercion or force attributable to the other party, and the parties have not subsequently lived together after knowledge of the fraud or release from the effects of the fraud/duress.

If you have questions about getting a marriage annulled in Pennsylvania, contact our family law attorneys at Lisa Marie Vari & Associates today!

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