Unmarry Me – What’s an Annulment?

Contrary to popular opinion, only a small portion of marriages can be annulled in North Carolina. Unlike a divorce, an annulment effectively reverses the clock, making it as if the couple seeking an annulment were never married. The most common misconception is that a very short marriage can be resolved by annulment. However, the length of a marriage is totally irrelevant in determining whether you can annul your marriage. Unless the facts of your case fit within one of the categories below, you are not eligible to seek an annulment:

A marriage between any two individuals:

  • Who are related closer than first cousins
  • Who are related as double first cousins
  • One of who is an adult and the other is under the age of 16
  • When either of the two individuals has another husband or wife living at the time of the marriage (bigamy)
  • Either of whom is physically impotent at the time of the marriage
  • Either of whom is incapable of contracting from want of will or understanding
  • Entered into with the belief that the female is pregnant, followed by separation of the parties within 45 days of the marriage and this separation lasts for a continuous period of 1 year (unless a child is born to the parties within 10 lunar months from their date of separation)

With the exception of bigamy, no marriage between two individuals, which is followed by cohabitation and the birth of a child, shall be eligible for annulment. Additionally, bigamous marriages are known as ‘void marriages.’ Unlike the other grounds listed above, for which the couple would have to obtain an order from the appropriate North Carolina District Court, bigamous marriages are void by ‘operation of law,’ meaning that you do not necessarily have to obtain a court order to annul the marriage. The marriage is automatically void. However, it is likely in your best interest to obtain a court order regardless, both legally and practically.

Those spouses who are not eligible to annul their marriage, but who otherwise wish to terminate the bonds of marriage, must go through the process of an absolute divorce. Spouses in NC can petition for an absolute divorce based on their continuous separation for at least 1 year. Individuals wishing to resume their maiden name may do so through the absolute divorce process.

Learn more about Divorce & Family Law 

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Trusted since 1982, Weaver, Bennett & Bland, P.A. serves clients in North Carolina and South Carolina. Located in the town of Matthews between Mecklenburg and Union Counties in North Carolina, we’ve proudly provided legal services throughout Charlotte, Matthews, Mint Hill, Stallings, Indian Trail, Monroe, Marvin, Wesley Chapel, Weddington, Waxhaw, the Ballantyne area, and other surrounding communities in the Greater Charlotte region.  Our clients range from national corporations and major banking institutions to individuals and local companies.  We provide the best possible legal representation and advocacy, upholding our main client-focused cornerstones:  Helping. Planning. Protecting.