How to Get a Marriage Annulled in Texas

woman signing papers for an annulment

I want to help you obtain the most favorable outcome possible in your case.

  • Contact me today for a FREE case strategy meeting.
  • Available in-person, by phone, or by video.
Brett Pritchard Law

Updated March 22, 2024

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 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:

Validity

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.

Marriage-Related Issues

When a couple files for divorce, both spouses have to resolve all marriage-related issues, including the division of property, alimony, child support, and child custody.

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.

Grounds

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:

Under the Age of 18

If all the following requirements apply to a marriage, the court can annul the marriage based on either spouse’s age:

  • One of the spouses was at least 16 but hadn’t turned 18 yet.

  • The minor spouse didn’t have parental consent to marry – and the couple didn’t have a court order granting them consent to marry without parental consent.

  • A parent, guardian, or another authorized person representing the minor files the annulment petition on his or her behalf.

  • The annulment petition is filed within 90 days of the marriage.

If the minor spouse turns 18 within that 90-day window, he or she can file the petition for annulment. Marriages under this specific condition are not invalidated automatically but are, instead, up to the discretion of the presiding judge.

Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol

People impaired by either alcohol or drugs don’t have the necessary capacity to provide consent for a range of things, especially a big commitment like marriage. To obtain an annulment that’s based on impairment, the person seeking the annulment – or the petitioner – must demonstrate that both the following factors apply:

  • The petitioner was too impaired at the time of the marriage to provide meaningful consent.

  • Since the effects of the alcohol or drugs wore off, the petitioner hasn’t acted like he or she was married to the respondent.

The second element is critical in obtaining an annulment under this circumstance. The court needs to know that the petitioner would have never gone through with the marriage if he or she hadn’t been impaired at the time. If,¬†upon sobering up, the petitioner gave marriage a whirl and acted like the respondent’s spouse for any amount of time, an annulment won’t be granted.

Permanent Impotence

Couples can also seek an annulment on the grounds of impotence. Impotence in this context refers to either spouse’s inability to have sexual intercourse. For a spouse to seek an annulment based on impotence, each of the following factors must apply to the marriage:

  • One of the spouses was impotent at the time of your marriage.

  • The condition of impotence is permanent. The couple didn’t consummate the marriage and won’t be able to do so in the future.

  • The petitioner did not know about the respondent’s impotence at the time of the marriage.

  • Since learning about the respondent’s impotence, the petitioner hasn’t voluntarily lived with them.

The court is looking for the petitioner to demonstrate that he or she wouldn’t have married the respondent if he or she had known about the impotence, which makes not living together after learning about the other party’s condition an important element of this basis for annulment. When the annulment is based on impotence, either spouse can do the petitioning.

Under Fraud, Duress, or Force

For a marriage to be valid, both spouses must enter the contract voluntarily. One spouse’s use of fraud, force, or duress can invalidate the marriage – as can the use of fraud, force, or duress by another person or a group of people.

Courts use the following terms are used when considering an annulment based on some form of deceit:

Fraud

Fraud refers to lying about something, withholding information, or hiding relevant information in order to convince another person to marry. For the lie to qualify as fraud in this context, it must be significant enough that it altered the petitioner’s decision to marry.

Force

Force refers to physically forcing the petitioner to marry – or using the threat of immediate injury to achieve the same effect.

Duress

Duress refers to using threats or another kind of pressure to persuade the petitioner to marry. For the claim of duress to support an annulment, the petitioner must have credibly believed that they would have been harmed if they hadn’t married the respondent.

The court requires a credible showing that the petitioner only got married because of fraud, force, or duress. Voluntarily living with the respondent after the marriage will not support an annulment case.

A prime example of a marriage based on fraud is when the respondent marries under the guise of love but is actually pursuing a green card. While fraud of this nature can be difficult to prove, Texas courts have granted annulments on this basis.

Without Meaningful Consent

To consent to marriage, you must have the legal capacity to do so at the time. If the petitioner didn’t have the capacity to consent to the marriage or to understand the ramifications of the marriage at the time it took place, annulment could apply. Conditions like the following can nullify a person’s ability to provide meaningful consent:

  • A traumatic brain injury (TBI)

  • A serious mental illness

  • A serious learning disability

  • A form of serious dementia, such as Alzheimer’s

  • The aftermath of a serious stroke

If the impairment that made the person unable to provide consent applied at the time of the marriage but was temporary, he or she can petition for an annulment upon recovery. However, a person who is incapable of consenting to marriage often won’t have the capacity to file a petition for annulment. As a result, someone else will need to file for them, such as a court-appointed guardian.

If one spouse wants to file an annulment petition in response to the other’s incapacity, they must show that both the following are true of the marriage:

  • The petitioner didn’t know about the other’s lack of capacity when they married.

  • Since learning of the incapacity, the petitioner has not lived with him or her.

During the Divorce Waiting Period

After divorce, couples must wait 30 days before remarrying. Hiding the fact of a recent divorce from a potential spouse can be grounds for annulment. When all the following conditions apply to a marriage, a spouse can seek an annulment for a recent divorce:

  • One spouse was divorced from another person fewer than 30 days prior to the marriage between the petitioner and the respondent.

  • When they got married, the petitioner didn’t know about the respondent’s recent divorce.

  • The respondent put some effort into hiding the recent divorce.

  • The petitioner ceased living with the respondent upon learning of the divorce.

  • The petitioner files for an annulment within one year of the marriage to the respondent.

While this ground is similar to the condition of fraud, it is far more specific. To apply, the respondent must have concealed a very recent divorce, and the petitioner has only a year to discover the subterfuge before the possibility of annulment is off the table. Once a year has passed, an annulment based on fraud may remain a possibility.

Within the Marriage License Waiting Period

Most couples in Texas must wait at least 72 hours after obtaining a marriage license to get married, and failure to do so can support an annulment. The exceptions to this 72-hour rule include all the following situations:

  • One or both of the spouses are active members of the U.S. Armed Forces.

  • The couple completes a state-approved premarital education course prior to the marriage.

  • The couple obtains a court order that waives the mandatory 72-hour waiting period.

  • One of the spouses is an employee or civilian contractor of the U.S. Department of Defense.

If none of these situations apply to the marriage, an annulment can be sought for a marriage that rushed the 72-hour waiting period. Either spouse can petition, but he or she must file the petition for an annulment within 30 days of the marriage.

To Someone that Is Already Married

If one of the spouses was already married to someone else when he or she entered into marriage, it is called bigamy, and it is grounds for annulment. In Texas, you are married until the marriage is ended through divorce, death, or annulment. Even if you and your spouse have been separated for years, you are still married.

To a Relative

Marriages between two people in any of the following kinds of relationships are void and grounds for an annulment:

  • Siblings

  • Parent and child

  • First cousins

  • Other familial relationships

If two people who are closely related to each other marry, the marriage is invalid and can be annulled.

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 an 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 an annulment, declaring a marriage void prevents the spouses from agreeing that the marriage is valid. If the court declares your marriage void, 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.

Read more about managing divorce expenses.

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.

We are here to help you, so please do not hesitate to contact us online or call us at (254) 781-4222 for more information today.

Related Reading

Categories: 
Related Posts
  • Military Divorce and the Survivor Benefit Plan Read More
  • Texas Divorce Based on the Ground of Cruelty Read More
  • Sometimes Fault-Based Divorce Is the Answer Read More