Here, learn about annulling a marriage in Texas. The article covers what an annulment is, the grounds for an annulment, the differences between an annulment, a divorce, and a suit to declare a marriage void, the requirements for filing an annulment in Texas, and the process for obtaining an annulment.
What is an annulment?
An annulment is a legal case that ends a marriage. A judge can grant an annulment based on reasons that existed when the marriage started. If the judge grants the marriage, it will be like the marriage never happened, legally speaking.
Getting an annulment can be fairly simple once you can prove one of the grounds for an annulment. It can be more complicated if you did the following during the marriage:
You had a child or conceived a child; or
You bought property together.
What are the grounds for annulment?
Texas allows annulments in the following situations:
A spouse was under the age of 18 when they got married.
A spouse was under the influence of alcohol or narcotics when they got married.
A spouse is permanently impotent.
A spouse only got married because of fraud, duress, or force.
A spouse did not have the mental capacity to agree to get married.
A spouse concealed the fact that they had been divorced before.
The marriage happened less than 72 hours after the spouses got the marriage license.
What is the difference between a divorce and an annulment?
Both a divorce and an annulment result in the end of a marriage. In a divorce, a court finds that the marriage was valid. The divorce is happening because of something that occurred after the marriage.
In an annulment, a court finds that the marriage was never valid in the first place. It will be like the marriage never existed, at least in a legal sense.
What is the difference between an annulment and a suit to declare a marriage void?
A spouse whose marriage fits any grounds for annulment can file an annulment lawsuit. They can also choose to stay married. Texas law calls their marriage “voidable.”
Some marriages are not valid under Texas law under any circumstances. Texas calls these marriages “void.” Void marriages include:
Marriages between certain relatives; and
Marriages in which a spouse is already married.
An annulment is an optional way to end a voidable marriage. A suit to declare a marriage void applies to marriages that cannot be valid under Texas law.
How long do I have to live in Texas to file for an annulment?
You do not need to have lived in Texas for any specific amount of time before you can file for an annulment in Texas. You only have to meet one of the following requirements:
At least one of you lives in Texas at the time you file the annulment petition; or
You got married in Texas.
Where can I file an annulment petition?
You can file a petition for annulment in the county where:
You got married;
All or most of the events that led to your marriage took place; or
Your spouse lived when you got married.
If you got married in Houston, for example, you can file the petition in Harris County.
The local district clerk can tell you which courts handle annulment cases. In most counties, the courts that handle divorces also handle annulments.
How long do I have to wait after filing the annulment petition to have a final hearing?
Unlike divorce, Texas law does not require you to wait after filing an annulment petition. Courts are very busy, though. You might not be able to schedule a hearing right away. The process is likely to take a few weeks, at least.
What if there are children involved in the annulment?
You and your spouse might have had children during the marriage. If so, you will have to address child custody issues. This applies whether the child or children were born to you or you adopted them. Your annulment case will have to include a Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship (“SAPCR”).
A SAPCR may involve issues like visitation, child support, and health insurance. An annulment case that includes a SAPCR lets the court deal with all these issues at once.
Please note that our annulment forms will not work if you need an annulment and a SAPCR. You should consider getting help from legal aid or a private attorney. You can ask attorneys if they offer limited-scope representation.
What do I do if don’t qualify for an annulment?
Do I need a lawyer to get an annulment?
A lawyer can identify potential problems in your case before they happen. This can save you time and help you avoid frustration. It can also help you save money over the long term. Annulments can be more complicated than you think. They can get very complicated if you have children or valuable assets like a house or a retirement plan.
The State Bar of Texas Lawyer Referral Information Service can connect you with a private lawyer. Call 800-252-9690 to learn more. They may have information about lawyers who accept alternate fee structures, such as the following:
Reduced fee arrangements: The lawyer provides you with a full range of legal services for a lower fee.
Limited scope representation: The lawyer gives you advice but does not go to court with you. This is also known as “unbundling.”