When a marriage is no longer working for a couple, often the first option that the spouses may consider is filing for a divorce. In Wisconsin, however, divorce is not the only legal remedy available. In certain circumstances, couples may also use the annulment process to end their marriage. The important distinction between the two is that while divorce is the process that should be used to end a legally valid marriage, annulment may be used to end a marriage that was never valid in the first place. If you are considering this alternative, you should consult the Milwaukee annulment attorneys at Reddin & Singer for guidance. As experienced family law lawyers, we can advise you on whether a divorce or an annulment may be more appropriate for your circumstances.Grounds for Annulment in Wisconsin
Couples may seek an annulment only in certain situations. They must be able to show that the marriage into which they entered was never a valid marriage at all. This may happen for several reasons, any of which may be grounds for seeking an annulment:
Underage Spouse: If one spouse was not actually able to consent to a marriage in Wisconsin because of their age, the marriage is invalid.
Mental Incapacity: This may be due to being permanently mentally impaired, or it may be a result of a temporary impairment, such as intoxication.
Force or Duress: If one spouse was forced or threatened into the marriage, it is not a legal marriage.
Legally Invalid Relationships: If one spouse was already married at the time of the marriage, they cannot marry someone else. Likewise, if the spouses are cousins, or one spouse divorced within six months before the marriage, the marriage is not legal.
Impotence: If one spouse is unable to have children or have sexual intercourse, and the other spouse was unaware of it at the time of the marriage, the marriage may be invalidated.
Fraud: If one spouse can show that the other spouse affirmatively lied about or concealed an essential issue, the marriage may be invalid due to fraud.
It is important to know that if you are attempting to annul your marriage based on fraud, impotence, duress, or mental incapacity, you must do so within one year of the time that you discovered the issue. After the year has expired, you will no longer be able to make such a claim.
You may begin the annulment process by filing a petition for annulment in the court where you live or where your spouse lives. It is important that your spouse be notified of the annulment petition, and you should make sure that you serve a copy upon them. The petition should state which of the grounds you are using in seeking an annulment. Once your spouse has received the annulment petition, and the court has reviewed it, the judge will conduct a hearing. At the hearing, you will have the opportunity to present evidence for why an annulment is appropriate. Your spouse may present their own evidence. At the conclusion of the hearing, the judge will determine whether you have proven your basis for an annulment. If so, the judge will issue an order granting the annulment and ending the marriage.Consequences of an Annulment
If the judge grants your annulment, this means that it is as if your marriage never existed. However, this does not mean that the assets that you jointly owned or any children that you have simply disappear. Because of these practicalities, the judge may also address questions of custody, property division, and child support in an annulment order, similar to how they would be handled in a divorce proceeding. Based on the circumstances of your annulment, you may request certain assets or rights from the judge. Additionally, children who are born into a marriage that is annulled are considered to have been born out of wedlock and are entitled to the same inheritance rights and financial support in a divorce as other children.Consult a Knowledgeable Annulment Attorney in Milwaukee
If you have reason to believe that your marriage was based on false pretenses, or if you have recently learned information about your spouse or the circumstances of your marriage that leads you to believe that the marriage may be invalid, you may be able to seek an annulment as an alternative to a divorce. At Reddin & Singer, LLP, our Milwaukee annulment lawyers can help you understand the pros and cons of the divorce and annulment processes and assist you in deciding which is better for your circumstances and needs. Contact our office at (414) 271-6400 or online to set up a free appointment. Our divorce attorneys represent residents of Milwaukee, Mequon, Racine, West Bend, Waukesha, and other communities in Racine, Washington, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, and Waukesha Counties.