Pennsylvania residents often believe that an annulment of a couple’s marriage may be sought when the marriage has not been consummated or when cooler heads prevail after a hasty decision has been made. However, neither of these situations would be grounds for an annulment in Pennsylvania.
While a divorce may be granted for a number of reasons, an annulment is only available when the marriage is invalid. Divorce proceedings are generally initiated due to problems that have developed during the marriage, but an annulment addresses situations where the couple should never have married in the first place. While divorced spouses have certain legal rights and obligations, such as paying or receiving spousal support, an annulment effectively cancels the marriage and leaves both parties in the same legal position they were in before they got married.
An annulment may be granted in Pennsylvania if one of the parties was not of legal age or were already married. A marriage may also be annulled in cases of mental incapacity, and this could include a situation where one or both of the parties were under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the wedding. Other situations where an annulment may be granted include a marriage between relatives and where one or both of the parties were coerced.
Individuals who look upon a recent marriage as a terrible mistake may be disheartened to learn that an annulment is not an option for them, but that does not mean that they are trapped. An experienced family law attorney could help a client in this situation by explaining the steps that would be required to take in order to seek a divorce.
Source: Findlaw, “Pennsylvania Family Laws“, November 17, 2014