Florida Annulment Lawyer Proudly Serving Jacksonville and All of Florida
An annulment in Florida establishes that a marriage never existed, as opposed to a divorce, where a marital union is dissolved. Obtaining an annulment is more costly and complex than a divorce. Florida doesn’t have an official annulment status but is designated and defined through appellate court decisions. These decisions establish precedents that then direct Florida courts in the annulment process. For this reason, it’s essential that a skilled and well-informed attorney guide you through this course of action. Get in touch with a Jacksonville annulments attorney the Law Office of A. Sam Jubran, P.A. who possesses this indispensable experience and know how to favorably obtain an annulment.
Why People Look to Annulment
There is a myriad of reasons that a couple may seek a Florida annulment instead of a traditional divorce:
- To avoid property rights and division assessed in a divorce
- Keeping insurance or retirement benefits safe from an ex-spouse’s claim
- Parents seeking to protect the interests of a married, under-age child
- Religious reasons – some religions forbid divorces, such as Catholicism and Hinduism
- The marriage occurred to assist another person’s immigration status
Types of Annulments
The Florida family court system recognizes two types of marriages when it comes to granting an annulment: void and voidable marriage.
A void marriage is one that is invalid from the very moment the parties entered into the marriage. These unions are so defective that the law makes them unequivocally invalid. You or your spouse can challenge a void marriage at any time during the life of the marriage. Really anyone can question the marriage, including a family member or close friend. For example, an incestuous marriage is a void marriage.
A voidable marriage is one that was valid at its onset but was later determined to be questionable. For instance, one or both spouses were deemed mentally unable to make logical decisions at the time of the marriage.
Determining where your marriage falls in these descriptions can be complicated and the direction of a family law attorney is important. The Law Office of A. Sam Jubran, P.A. represent many clients who’ve sought and attained a Florida annulment. We have an expansive breadth of understanding of this process.
The Process of Achieving an Annulment
Our office will draft, file, and serve an official petition in the Florida circuit court seeking an annulment. In said documentation, we will designate whether or not it is a void or voidable marriage, and provide evidence for this determination.
If the opposing party disagrees with this petition, they can file a counterclaim for a divorce. They will serve the other party this claim for dissolution of marriage. If their position were favored, the court would grant you a divorce, not an annulment.
Your Jacksonville Annulment Attorney at our office understand how to achieve an annulment. Don’t risk losing your opportunity to achieve what you demand because your counsel is inexperienced.
Court-Recognized Grounds for Annulment
You or your spouse can seek a Florida annulment at any time in your marriage. The length of time the couple was actually in a marriage doesn’t dictate this, as is often the misconception. There are specific circumstances that Florida case law recognizes as warranting annulment:
- Bigamy (a spouse is legally married to more than one person)
- Incest (the couple is closely related)
- A spouse is mentally rationally and unable to consent to marriage
- The spouses were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the marriage
- Fraud (a marriage was obtained by representation or deceit, including marriages occurring solely to gain citizenship)
- One spouse concealed something that, had the other spouse known, may have affected their decision to enter the marriage (inability to conceive or impotence, for instance)
- The spouses never lived together in the same place or consummated the marriage
- One spouse consented to the marriage under threat or duress
There are exceptions to these factors, if the seeking party was aware of one or more of these situations, but continued in approving the marriage. This can be a complicated case to prove or disprove and is yet another reason why you’ll need the experienced attorneys at our office to represent you in the endeavor.
Annulments Based on Fraud or Deceit
One of the more popular grounds for annulling a marriage is fraud or deceit. In cases where one spouse conceals something important about themselves that may affect the other spouse’s decision to marry them, a spouse seeking annulment may have the grounds necessary to prove their case before a judge. But this begs the question: What sorts of things do spouses conceal that would trigger grounds for annulment?
Generally, they conceal something related to their sexuality and this includes homosexuality. Sadly, there are many individuals who, for religious reasons, believe that it is wrong to be gay. Sometimes, these folks marry someone of the opposite sex when they will never be sexually attracted to that person. In some circumstances, this can be grounds for annulment.
The key here, as it would be in other cases, is that the one spouse concealed that they were homosexual at the time of the marriage. It is also important that the other spouse has no idea about their homosexual tendencies. If they do, then they were not defrauded. Thus, foreknowledge would be a defense to any kind of assertion of fraud as the basis for an annulment.
This can be difficult to prove, though not impossible. In addition, some courts will deny an annulment if the homosexual activity took place long before the couple was married.
With fraud-based grounds for an annulment, one spouse must show inducement. In other words, they entered the marriage on grounds that are clearly fraudulent.
One Major Factor: The Duration of the Marriage
It is very difficult to have a court grant an annulment on the basis of fraud. But it’s much easier if you pursue it within the first few months of the marriage. If a couple has been together for 30 years and then one spouse decides to annul the marriage, they’re not going to convince the court that it should grant them an annulment.
If you and your spouse consummated the marriage or produced children, fraud will be almost impossible grounds for an annulment.
Annulment Based on Mental Illness
In order to pursue an annulment on the grounds of mental illness, inebriation, or retardation, one spouse must show that either they themselves or the other spouse lacked the capacity to consent to marriage. The grounds for this would be similar to throwing out a will, albeit, much more difficult to prove. If diminished capacity is grounds for annulling a marriage, it helps your case if you pursue the annulment within the first year of marriage.
Annulment Based on Duress
The one thing that all these grounds have in common is that, for one reason or another, the individual’s ability to knowingly consent to the marriage was either manipulated or diminished. To add one more to that list, if one spouse only entered the marriage because someone coerced them, that is grounds for an annulment. But the criteria for proving duress to annul a marriage is strict. The individual who only consented to the marriage under duress must show clear and convincing evidence that the other party used extortion, coercion, or the threat of violence in order to force the other party into a marriage.
When an Annulment Could Be Denied
Besides having inadequate representation when seeking an annulment, there are other reasons that a judge will deny an annulment request. If the party requesting the annulment was aware of their or their spouse’s defects when confirming the marriage, they have waived their right to question the marriage contract.
If both spouses reasonably relied on the marriage to cohabitate, buy property, or bear and raise children, an annulment is usually denied.
Of course, the variables making up these causes are undoubtedly complex and intricate. We can help dissect and analyze your specific circumstances and determine how to best prevail.
Legal Annulment Is Not Religious Annulment
For those who are pursuing annulment for religious reasons, it is best to talk to your priest, minister, rabbi, or other religious figure about the religious grounds for pursuing an annulment. Churches, temples, and mosques have their own set of rules for annulment that may suit your needs better than attempting to get an annulment from the courts. The truth is, it is very difficult to get an annulment and the courts will be very suspicious when one spouse economically gains from pursuing one. On the other side, even if the Florida courts annul your marriage, it may be grounds for a religious annulment.
Assets and Custody in Annulment Cases
Although an annulment designates a marriage as having never existed, a Florida court cannot declare co-mingled assets or children in the same category. Therefore, you will need to be settle these matters through the courts, as they are in divorce proceedings. A judge will determine and implement child support, parenting plans, and asset division. Just as these elements are extremely important, so is the guidance and expertise of an attorney. The Law Office of A. Sam Jubran, P.A. can be that guiding advocate in your Florida annulment case.
Let Jacksonville Annulments Attorney Sam Jubran and His Team Help You
If you, or someone you know, think you need, or have the grounds for, an annulment of marriage, then you should contact a Board Certified Specialist in Marital and Family Law. Don’t wait, contact your Jacksonville annulments attorney today at (904) 360-6100.