Washington does provide for the annulment or a “decree of invalidity” of marriages in certain cases. Most people want an annulment because they regret having married their spouses, or if they believe that the marriage was a sham. Annulment rare and involves asking the court to declare the marriage never legally happened. You may be able to get a decree of invalidity with respect to your marriage if one of the following situations exists:
• One or both of the parties were legally unable to consent to the marriage due to their age, or one or both failed to get the required parental consent or court approval
• One or both of the parties was already married to someone else at the time of the marriage, and that marriage had not been dissolved at the time of the marriage
• The parties are too closely related
• One or both of the parties was legally unable to consent to the marriage due to mental incapacity or intoxication
• One party was induced to enter into the marriage by force or duress
• Some fraud exists as to the essentials of marriage
In order to petition the court for a decree of invalidity, at least one of the parties must live in the state of Washington. Additionally, the court will not issue a decree of invalidity in any of the above situations if the parties continue to reside together in the marriage after they have had a chance to fix the reason for the annulment (so if you decided to stay married after you have turned eighteen for a few years, you can’t come back and say you never should have married due to your age).
But the effect on property is not much different from a divorce. You still have to decide who gets what property, how the children are cared for, and who pays the debts. The process of separation and divorce can be very complex, even if you have been married only a short period of time.
We are here to answer your questions, ease your mind, and help guide you through what could be a difficult proceeding. At Pacific Northwest Family Law, we handle divorce and family law cases that involve all types of issues, including divorce, child custody, paternity, child support, property division, and spousal support. Contact our office today and see how we can assist you with your Washington divorce or family law case.