Annulments are usually sought for a short term marriage and when there are no children of the marriage. However, with the ability for people to obtain a divorce based on “no fault” grounds, or Domestic Relations Law (DRL)§170(7), annulments are less sought out. However, if you do wish to pursue an annulment, here is what you need to know.
There are five grounds for annulling a marriage: (1) failure of a party to have reached the age of consent; (2) lack of understanding of our actions (generally seen when one party is mentally challenged in some fashion); (3) physical incapacity to consummate the marriage; (4) consent to marry was obtained by force, duress, or fraud; and (5) an incurable mental illness for five or more years. The important thing to remember here is that you need more than an agreement between you and your spouse to annul your marriage. You will need corroborating evidence to bolster your case. In other words, you will need third party testimony to assist you in your annulment action.
Also be aware that the Appellate Division held that to obtain an annulment based upon fraud, the alleged fraud must have been “material, to the degree, that had it not been practiced, the party deceived would not have consented to the marriage.”
Annulments are hard to obtain, especially where the marriage was consummated. If you are contemplating an annulment, make an appointment to see an attorney first. Try to find one that will not charge you for a consultation fee. With the no fault divorce statutes, and the stringent requirements for an annulment, you may not satisfy the grounds for an annulment and may be better off seeking a divorce by pleading “no fault.”