Updated July 21, 2022
Contrary to popular belief, filing for divorce is not the only way to legally end a marriage in Texas. There are three distinct ways to end a marriage in the State of Texas: death, divorce, and annulment.
An annulment is singular because it amounts to the court declaring that a marriage was not valid to begin with. In other words, it’s as if the couple was never actually married in the eyes of the law. Annulment can be confusing, but better understanding the basics can help.
Not all couples qualify for an annulment in Texas because a Texas annulment requires specific grounds. It is advisable to consult with a Waco divorce lawyer to discuss your particular situation and to determine whether or not you can get your marriage annulled.
What’s the Difference Between Divorce and Annulment?
There are three main differences between divorce and annulment in Texas:
Divorce ends valid marriages—with all that that entails. If a marriage is annulled, however, the court finds that the marriage was never valid—it never existed. As such, the annulment nullifies and voids the marriage entirely. The result will be as if the couple were never married in the first place.
In the vast majority of cases, couples get a divorce if their marriage was valid. If the couple never should have been married in the first place, they can get an annulment.
In other words, the difference between a divorce and annulment is that the former ends a valid marriage, while the latter is only available when the marriage was never valid and should never have existed.
Typically, couples do not need to resolve any issues to get an annulment unless the marriage lasted for a long time and the spouses have acquired community property or have children together.
Divorce refers to the legal dissolution of what was a valid marriage. Divorce can be predicated on fault-based grounds (although it is necessary to prove to the judge’s satisfaction that the claim of fault is true). Divorce can also be predicated on no-fault grounds.
While it’s possible to get a no-fault divorce in Texas, specific grounds are necessary to get a marriage annulled. Couples cannot qualify for an annulment if they do not have grounds to annul their marriage.
If you are considering getting an annulment because you believe that your marriage is not valid, discuss your situation with a divorce lawyer to understand your options.
What Are the Grounds for an Annulment in Texas?
Couples in Texas need to have grounds for an annulment. Subchapter B of the Texas Family Code Chapter 6 recognizes nine grounds for an annulment:
One of the spouses was under the age of 18 at the time of marriage and got married without parental consent or a court order.
One or both spouses was impaired by alcohol or drugs at the time of the marriage and did not have the capacity to consent meaningfully to the marriage at the time it happened.
One of the parties was permanently impotent at the time of the marriage, and the other spouse was not aware of this and did not voluntarily cohabitate with the impotent spouse after learning about their impotence.
One spouse forced or coerced the other to enter into the marriage by fraud or duress. The deceived spouse did not voluntarily cohabitate with the other since learning about the fraud. (Learn more about different kinds of fraud.)
One of the spouses lacked the mental capacity to consent to the marriage and did not voluntarily cohabitate with their spouse when they possessed the mental capacity to understand the nature of the marital relationship.
The spouses organized a marriage ceremony during the 72-hour waiting period after the issuance of the marriage license.
One of the spouses finalized their divorce from a third party within 30 days before the new marriage, and the other spouse did not reasonably know about the concealed divorce at the time of their marriage ceremony.
One of the spouses was already married to someone else when he or she entered into marriage.
The spouses are related to each other in a sibling, parent, first cousin, or other familial relationship.
The bar is quite high when it comes to annulling a marriage, and the grounds are fairly rigid and straightforward.
What Are the Requirements to Get a Marriage Annulled in Texas?
Besides having grounds for annulment, couples also need to meet the residency requirements to file for annulment in Texas. Couples can get their marriages annulled if the following requirements are met:
Either spouse has lived in Texas for the past 6 months or longer.
Either spouse has lived for no less than 90 days in the county where the couple is filing for annulment.
If you are not sure where and how you can file for annulment, contact a lawyer to discuss your case.
Is There a Waiting Period for an Annulment in Texas?
As you may know, Texas has a mandatory waiting period from the date of filing an Original Petition for Divorce to the date when the spouses are eligible to finalize their divorce. The waiting period lasts 60 days, according to Texas Family Code § 6.702.
But is there a waiting period to annul your marriage in Texas?
No, Texas law does not impose a waiting period between the date of filing a petition to annul a marriage and the date when the court can grant an annulment.
What Are the Legal Effects of an Annulment?
If your marriage is annulled, it is void by the court, and both spouses can hold themselves out as never having been married to one another. The court, however, can still treat specific matters involved in the annulment the same way that it would in a divorce, including the following decisions:
If any of these decisions apply and the couple is unable to hammer out mutually agreeable terms, the court will rule on these matters. To make sure your annulment goes smoothly, work closely with a Waco divorce lawyer to decide on these issues before going to court.
It is important to note that children born of a marriage that is later annulled remain legitimate children who have all the same rights that children of valid marriages have. The fact that a marriage was never valid does not diminish either party’s responsibility to shared children.
What’s the Difference Between a Void Marriage and Annulment?
While many people use the terms “declaring a marriage void” and “annulling a marriage” interchangeably, these two terms are slightly different. The similarity between these two processes is that both focus on why the marriage is not valid from the very beginning.
Unlike with annulment, declaring a marriage void prevents the spouses from agreeing to the marriage being valid. If your marriage is declared void by the court, it cannot be valid and should not exist. (Read “What to Expect at Family Law Court.”)
One of the most common reasons Texas courts declare marriages void is when one of the spouses was married to another person when the marriage started (Texas Family Code § 6.202).
How Much Will It Cost to Get Your Marriage Annulled?
It is practically impossible to estimate how much it will cost to get an annulment in Texas. However, spouses can substantially reduce the cost of their annulment case when they agree on all issues involved. Working with a Waco divorce lawyer can help you reach mutually agreeable decisions quickly and keep costs down.
How Can a Waco Divorce Lawyer Help with Your Case?
If you believe your marriage should be void, it is a serious matter, and the best path forward involves having an experienced divorce lawyer in your corner.
Annulment cases are often complicated and can be difficult to accomplish, but Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Waco, Texas, is a practiced divorce lawyer who has a wealth of experience guiding cases like yours toward their most favorable outcomes.