If you are caught in an unhappy marriage in North Carolina, getting an annulment may be a hot topic between you and your spouse. Many North Carolinians believe that annulments are a shortcut to getting a faster divorce. Or you may be thinking that you can just void your marriage or that your marriage is voidable. We have written this article to give you a clearer understanding of annulment, void marriages, and voidable marriages in North Carolina.
What is a Void Marriage?
A void marriage is a marriage that North Carolina law considers to be invalid at its inception, unlawful, and not capable of legal recognition. If your marriage is a void marriage, there is no need to seek a divorce or annulment.
In North Carolina, the only circumstance that meets the condition of being void is a bigamous marriage. A bigamous marriage is when you are already married and enter into a new marriage without legally ending the first one.
What is a Voidable Marriage?
In North Carolina, the only way to end a voidable marriage is to seek a court order canceling it. There are specific conditions that must be met in order to seek an order for a voidable marriage. These conditions are the same as the conditions for an annulment.
What is an Annulment?
In North Carolina, the law only allows specific circumstances to be in place in order to get your marriage annulled.
An annulment means that your marriage has been voided, and once the District Court grants your annulment, it’s like your marriage never existed.
Under What Circumstances Am I Not Eligible for an Annulment?
You may think that how long you’ve been married may qualify you for an annulment, but the length of your marriage is not relevant when it comes to seeking an annulment in a North Carolina District Court.
What Would Make My Marriage Voidable Through Annulment?
You will only qualify for an annulment in North Carolina if you meet the following criteria according to North Carolina statutes. The criteria includes:
1. Family Members Who Are Married: If you married a relative who is “nearer in a relationship than first cousins,” then you could be eligible for an annulment in North Carolina. For example, if two first cousins, parent and child, or two siblings were married an annulment could be granted.
2. If You or Your Spouse Are Underage: In most cases, if you or your spouse were under the age of 16 and a member of the opposite sex, you would be eligible to get your marriage annulled in North Carolina, unless of course, there is a court order in place as a result of a pregnancy of a person between the ages of 14-16.
Additionally, if you or your spouse are under the age of 16, you may not be granted an annulment or voided if the female is pregnant or if a child has been born, unless your child has passed away at the time of the request for annulment, or you or your spouse are declared to be incompetent at the time you were married.
3. Impotent: If you or your spouse is physically impotent at the time you were married, and your impotence was diagnosed by a physician, you could be eligible for an annulment in North Carolina.
4. Lack of Mental Capacity to Understand Marriage: In some cases, you or your spouse may be found to lack the mental capacity to understand the, “special nature of a contract of marriage, and the duties and responsibilities which it entails.”
If this is the case in your marriage, you could seek an annulment in North Carolina, if the lack of mental capacity was present at the time you were married, not later on in the marriage or prior to your marriage.
5. False Pretense: You may be eligible for an annulment in North Carolina if you got married because you were under the “representation and belief” that your female partner to the marriage was pregnant. This holds true unless a child was born to you and your spouse within 10 lunar months from the date of separation, if you separated from your spouse within 45 days of getting married, and you have been continuously separated for a period of one year.
How Can I Get My Marriage Annulled in North Carolina?
In North Carolina, District Courts are often called trial courts and are divided into four sections: civil, criminal, magistrate, and juvenile. The majority of family law matters are handled in civil court.
There is a District Court in every county in North Carolina, and you should contact the Clerk of the Court for the county you reside in.
There are always very specific circumstances that need to be considered. If you aren’t sure you are eligible for an annulment, you should contact the Charlotte, North Carolina law firm of Remington & Dixon to discuss your individual situation and learn what options are available to you.
Brandon double-majored in Political Science and Criminal Justice at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He earned his Juris Doctor from Barry University School of Law in Orlando, Florida. Throughout his career, Brandon has received numerous awards and recognition from his peers and agencies that rate attorneys. A few of these awards are from The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 Trial Lawyer in 2014, The National Trial Lawyers: Top 40 Under 40 in 2014, Nation’s Top One Percent: National Association of Distinguished Counsel in 2015, Super Lawyers: Rising Stars in 2018 and 2019, and North Carolina Business Magazine: Legal Elite in 2019, among others.