Annullment in North Carolina

Most everyone who gets married and then has immediate second thoughts wants to know if they can get an annulment in North Carolina. Usually the answer is no…. it is not a fix for a bad marriage decision.

An annulment is very different from a divorce.  A North Carolina divorce simply terminates the marital relationship.  An annulment on the other hand, is a judicial declaration that the marriage was void… in essence, that there was no marriage at all.

What are the grounds in North Carolina? This article explores that question.

The grounds for an annulment are

  1. Bigamy.   A bigamous marriage is a marriage between persons either of whom has a spouse living at the time of such marriage.
  2. Marriage within a prohibited degree of kinship that is set out in the statute.
  3. Underage party or parties.
  4. Impotency.
  5. False representation of pregnancy.
  6. Want of will or understanding – lack of mental capacity.
  7. Fraud.

As you can see, some of these legal grounds are not self explanitory.  For example “prohibited degrees of kinship” is defined in the statute and should be explored further if a person is related to his or her spouse before they got married.

The defenses to an annulment lawsuit are:

  1. Ratification of a nonbigamous marriage.
  2. In a nonbigamous marriage, death of a party after cohabitation and birth of issue.
  3. Estoppel.
  4. Lack of standing.

While one would think that a declaration of a void marriage would cut off all claims for spousal support, that is not the case.  Postseparation support may be ordered in an action for annulment pursuant to G.S. § 50-16.1A(4).   Furthermore, just because marriage is annulled, if there are children then claims for child support and child custody are proper.

Like most family law claims, the district court is the proper court to file an action for annulment and a jury trial may be requested.

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Family law attorney Scott Allen has litigated annulment cases and has over seventeen years of experience.  If you have questions or need assistance, call him at (919) 863-4183 or email at sallen@allenspence.com.