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The Marriage Can’t Be Saved, But Can It Be Erased?

Even under the most ideal circumstances, not all marriages can be saved. People sometimes get married for the wrong reasons. When a couple gets married before they really have a chance to get to know each other, as a result of a pregnancy or false promises, it may be possible to get that marriage erased. If you feel you have been misled, or have been fraudulently coerced into marriage, you might want to consider asking a judge in Wake County for an annulment.

What Is an Annulment?

An annulment is the legal process through which a married couple can receive a decree cancelling their marriage. When a marriage has been annulled, it is the same as if it never happened. As far as the court is concerned, the marriage did not take place and was never valid.

What Does North Carolina Law Say About Annulments?

If you are considering annulling your marriage, it is important you understand the difference between a void marriage, as in the case of bigamy or physical impotence, and a marriage that is voidable. Void marriages can be annulled as a matter of law.

According to Chapter 51-3 of the state’s General Statutes:

All marriages between any two persons nearer of kin than first cousins, or between double first cousins, or between a male person under 16 years of age and any female, or between a female person under 16 years of age and any male, or between persons either of whom has a husband of wife living at the time of such marriage, or between persons either of whom is at the time physically impotent, or between persons either of whom is at the time incapable of contracting from want of will or understanding, shall be void.”

What this means is a marriage is not considered valid if it involves a minor under the age of 16, or is between two people who are either closer in relation than first cousins or who are double first cousins. Double first cousins come into being when two siblings from one family reproduce with two siblings from another family, so the resulting children are related through both of their parents. Bigamy, impotence and mental incompetence are also scenarios in which a marriage can be considered legally void.

In instances when an individual dies after getting married, cohabitating with his or her spouse and having a child, the only grounds to have the marriage annulled is if either party committed bigamy. Should a minor under the age of 16 get married and become pregnant or give birth, the only way his or her marriage can be annulled is if the child has been declared deceased at the time when the request to annul has been made.

When a Marriage Can Be Annulled in NC

In North Carolina, marriages can be annulled only under the following circumstances:

  • The marriage was between two people closer of kin than first cousins.
  • The marriage was between double first cousins.
  • The marriage was between two people, one of whom was under age 16.
  • The marriage was between two people, either of whom already had a living spouse at the time of the marriage.
  • The marriage was between two people, either of whom was physically impotent.
  • The marriage was between two people, either of whom was mentally incompetent or incapable of understanding the marriage vows.

A marriage can also be annulled when it was contracted under the belief the female was pregnant, so long as the couple separated within 45 days of the marriage ceremony, remained separated for at least 12 continuous months and the child was not born within 10 lunar months of the date of separation. In these cases, custody arrangements and division of property can be finalized as part of annulment proceedings.

How Wake County Family Law Attorneys Can Help

Not sure if you quality for an annulment? Speak with one of our Wake County family law attorneys. A skilled attorney will be able to review your case and advise you about whether you may meet the qualifications necessary to get your marriage annulled. An attorney will also be able to help you complete the actions necessary to either file for an annulment, or begin the divorce process if you do not quality for annulment.

To get started, contact Charles R. Ullman & Associates and schedule your consultation today.


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