What is an annulment?
Illinois law calls annulment a declaration of invalidity of marriage. It is a court order that says that a marriage is not valid, and should not be recognized by the state. An annulment is different from a divorce. A divorce says that a valid marriage is over. To learn more about getting a divorce, please read Getting a divorce.
When can I get my marriage annulled?
In Illinois there are 4 reasons for getting a marriage annulled:
- One spouse could not consent to be married. This can be because of:
- Mental disability
- Influence of drugs or alcohol
- Force, duress, or fraud
- One spouse cannot have sexual intercourse. The other spouse must not have known this at the time of the marriage.
- One spouse was under age 18 and did not have consent from a parent, guardian, or court.
- The marriage was illegal.
When is a marriage illegal?
A marriage that is not legal can be annulled. Illinois does not allow marriage between people who are:
- Still married to someone else; and
- Closely related by blood or adoption.
Is it easier to have a marriage annulled than to get a divorce?
No. Divorces are easier to get. Annulments have stricter requirements. Annulments also have strict time limits.
Would it be better to have my marriage annulled or to get a divorce?
Generally, an annulment is not any better to get than a divorce. The main reason to choose annulment instead of divorce is to avoid court ordered payments. A divorce could force the couple to divide their property. It can also force one spouse to pay money to the other.
Are there time limits on getting a marriage annulled?
Yes. The time limit for annulment depends on why the marriage is invalid.
The time limit is 90 days from when you learn about the problem if:
- Someone was under the influence of drugs or alcohol;
- Someone was mentally impaired at the time of the marriage; or
- Someone was forced into the marriage.
If your minor child got married without your permission, the time limit is before the child turns 18.
If you learned that your spouse cannot have sexual intercourse, the time limit is one year.
There is no time limit if you learn that your spouse was already married to another person. There is also no time limit for marriages prohibited by law.
What happens if I divorce my first spouse after I marry my second spouse?
Once you divorce your first spouse, your second marriage becomes valid. The State will recognize it.
What if I married someone and did not know they were already married?
A person who honestly thought the marriage was valid becomes a "putative spouse." You must not have known about the other spouse. The court will give a putative spouse the same rights a a legal spouse. This includes the right to divide property, and the right to be paid maintenance. Maintenance used to be "alimony."
What if I have children from an annulled marriage?
The rights of the children do not depend on whether your marriage is valid. They will have the same rights as children born or adopted during a valid marriage. They will be able to get child support form both parents. They will have the right to get property at the death of either parent.
Can a parent have their minor child's marriage annulled?
Yes. Children under age 18 need permission from a parent, guardian or court to get married. If the child gets married without permission, a parent or guardian can have the marriage annulled. You must file your petition to have the marriage annulled before the child turns 18.
Can a parent annul their adult disabled child's marriage?
Yes. A parent can file for annulment for a disabled adult child. The child's disability must have made it impossible for them to consent to the marriage. The judge will decide whether the child had the capacity to consent to marriage. You must file your petition within 90 days of learning of your child's marriage.
You can also ask for annulment if you are the legal representative of a disabled person.