Like a divorce, an annulment legally terminates a marriage. Unlike a divorce; however, an annulment declares that the marriage never existed. There is a common misperception that annulments are simpler and quicker than divorces. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
For divorce, North Carolina is a no-fault state. This means any married couple is allowed to obtain a divorce. Annulments are different. Married couples can only qualify for annulments in specific situations. In order to obtain an annulment, the marriage must be either void or voidable. A marriage may be considered void only if one spouse was already married to someone else. This is because polygamy is illegal in North Carolina.
A marriage may be considered voidable for a number of reasons. These include: false pretenses, incest, impotence, incapacity, or minority. False pretenses typically refers to couples who marry because they are expecting a baby. If the couple separates and no child is born within ten months, this is an instance of false pretenses. When claiming an annulment for false pretenses, the couple must separate within forty-five days of the marriage. Incest refers to the married couple discovering they are biologically related to one-another. In order to qualify as incest, they must be closer in relation than first cousins. Impotence refers to the physical inability to consummate the marriage. This is different from sterility. In order to obtain an annulment due to impotence, the condition must exist at the time of marriage. It must also be diagnosed by a medical professional. Incapacity refers to the mental state of one or both of the parties at the time of the marriage. This means that at least one of the individuals was legally incapable of entering into a contract. Drunkenness, drug use, neurodegenerative disorders, and other reasons can be used to justify incapacity. Finally, minority refers to being under the legal marital age. In North Carolina one must be eighteen years old to get married, or sixteen with parental consent. If you were under the age of sixteen when you were married, you will always qualify for an annulment. The same is true if you were between sixteen and eighteen and did not have parental consent.
Typical marriages do not fall under this category and instead require a continuous separation for one year. The lawyers at King Law can help you get a better sense of where you stand. We invite you to come in and talk with one of our attorneys in person during a consultation. Our number is 888-748-KING (5464).