Our New Mexico family law attorneys frequently receive inquiries from unhappily married partners seeking to terminate their marriage through the annulment process. Because the term annulment often is used incorrectly by television dramas, there are many people that do not understand how divorce and annulment differ. Further, the annulment process is limited to fairly narrow circumstances so many parties looking to terminate their marriage overestimate how frequently a marriage is annulled. We have provided an overview of key information about annulments since it is an area of family law that is widely misunderstood.
Annulment has a different effect on the status of a marriage and may only be used in narrow circumstances. While divorce terminates a valid marriage, an annulment constitutes an acknowledgement that a marriage was illegal and invalid so it is effectively void. Put another way, while divorce ends a marriage, annulment means that the marriage never existed. The most common reason that people seek annulment is to comply with religious tenants that prohibit divorce.
The only grounds for annulment under New Mexico law include the following:
- Failure to terminate a prior marriage (i.e. bigamy)
- Duress used to compel marriage
- Improper age to give consent – one of the parties was under 18 or under 16 without parental consent
- Misrepresentation or fraud as the foundation upon which the marriage is based
- Marriage between those too closely related by blood (incest)
- Mental incapacity
While financial issues in a divorce, such as spousal maintenance (alimony) and property division are increasingly treated similar to divorce, there may be difference in your rights with regard to key financial issues in divorce so it is important to seek legal advice before filing for an annulment. It also can be difficult to determine if you qualify for annulment based on fraud or misrepresentation. Our experienced New Mexico annulment attorneys can review your situation and determine your eligibility for an annulment and advise you regarding whether divorce or annulment is a better alternative.
If you have questions about annulment or divorce, the New Mexico Law Firm of Jay Goodman and Associates offers a free consultation in our centrally located offices in Santa Fe and Albuquerque so that we can discuss your options. Call us today to schedule your free consultation at (505) 989-8117 to learn about your rights. The above information is designed solely to illustrate general principles of law, and does not constitute a specific legal opinion on individual cases. We suggest that you contact experience legal counsel for a specific opinion tailored to your individual circumstances.