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Holland & Usry, P.A.

I have only been married a couple of months. Am I entitled to an annulment?

Probably not.

An annulment is an order from the Family Court stating that a marriage is invalid, meaning the parties are to be treated as if they were never married. Our office is frequently asked if a person is entitled to an annulment, and the answer is usually no.

The law states that only certain reasons—called grounds—will allow a marriage to be erased so thoroughly. The grounds for annulment in South Carolina are very, very limited.

A spouse may be able to get an annulment if he or she can prove any of the following reasons applies:

Failure to consummate by cohabitation

If the marriage has not been consummated by the cohabitation of the parties, the Court may declare the marriage void and grant an annulment. Cohabitation is living together as husband and wife. It does not necessarily require sexual activity by the parties. Spending one night together likely makes a party ineligible for an annulment on this ground.

Duress

A marriage can be annulled where either party entered into the marriage without his or her consent. South Carolina law has said the duress, or being forced into marriage, must be so great that the person was unable to act as a free agent and the party being forced into marriage must have great fear of bodily harm.

Fraud

One may be entitled to an annulment if he or she can establish that the person to whom they are married lied about something essential to the marriage. There is only a handful of examples that courts have found to be fraudulent representations. Those cases include misrepresentation about a person’s sanity or insanity (this does not include treatment for mental illness); not being truthful about known impotency; not being truthful about known sterility; and inclination to have children when prior to the marriage it was agreed not to have any. Many examples are considered insufficient, such as misrepresentations about wealth, social standing, or a person’s character.

Affinity and Consanguinity

The terms affinity and consanguinity refer to close relationships as relatives. Some people are so closely related that they would be entitled to an annulment if they asserted this ground after having been married. For example, if a man were to marry a woman whom he later found out to be his sister, he or she would be entitled to an annulment. First cousins are not so close in relationship that they would be entitled to an annulment. There are other unusually close relationships that entitle a person to seek an annulment, such as a man marrying his daughter, granddaughter, mother, and so on—and a corresponding list for a woman who marries a relative just as close.

The odds are if you are married, you are probably not entitled to an annulment; it will require a formal divorce to end your marriage. In rare cases, some grounds do allow an annulment. If you believe that you may be entitled to an annulment, please feel free to contact our family law attorneys at Holland & Usry, P.A., by calling 864-582-0416 or toll-free at 888-230-1841. Each case is different and we will be happy to talk to you about your case.

 

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