Experienced Miami Family Lawyers Manage Civil Annulments
Trustworthy guidance for resolving issues stemming from an invalid marriage
At Rafool, PLLC, our Miami family law attorneys offer advice and representation for clients seeking annulments. Many people who have a religious objection to divorce would prefer to terminate their relationship with an annulment. The difference is that a divorce dissolves a validly created marriage, while an annulment declares a marriage void because it was never validly created. Therefore, the standards are much different. With a divorce, all that’s required is for one spouse to declare that the marital relationship is irretrievably broken. The court will not question where the marriage went wrong. But with an annulment, the burden is on the petitioner to prove the marriage was broken at the outset and either cannot be or has not been repaired. We explain the law carefully and assemble the evidence necessary to convince a court that you have valid grounds to declare your marriage void so you can legally claim that you have never been married.
Two cases for Florida annulments: void and voidable marriages
Florida does not have a specific statute for annulments, so courts rely on previous common law decisions on the subject. Under these cases, there are two types of marriages that a court can annul:
- Void marriage — This is a marriage that never can be legal, because it violates law or public policy. These include marriages between people who are too closely related by blood, marriages in which one party is already validly married, marriages in which at least one of the parties is under age and marriages in which one party lacks the mental capacity to consent.
- Voidable marriage — These are marriages in which a party has grounds for an annulment but must prove those grounds before a court will dissolve the marriage. Such situations include the use of force or threats to gain consent, a party’s temporary lack of capacity to consent due to intoxication or mental illness and fraud in a material fact that prompted the marriage.
With a void marriage, the process is very simple. The presentation of any fact that would make a marriage void is evidence that the marriage was not and could never have been validly formed. With a voidable marriage, the case is trickier. The petitioner must prove the initial assertion, but the court may still decline to grant an annulment for various reasons. For example, if a spouse claims to have been drunk when reciting the marriage vows, the court will look at the surrounding circumstances. How far in advance of the ceremony did that party agree to get married? Was the person drunk all that time? How much time elapsed from the wedding to the present moment when the spouse is seeking an annulment?
In voidable marriages, the passage of time is a key element. As more time expires, the legitimacy of the voidable marriage grows, because the spouse with grounds for the annulment seems to be ratifying the marriage through personal conduct.
With a void marriage, anyone can petition the court to declare the union null. For example, a parent of an underage or incapacitated child can go to court. With a voidable marriage, only a spouse can request an annulment.
Choosing between annulment and divorce
If you are ending a marriage in Miami, we can help you make an informed decision. The advantage of an annulment is that the parties can truthfully say that they have never been married. This is important in many cultural communities. However, it’s also important to note that religions often have different standards for an annulment than the family law courts of Florida. A judge may be unwilling to grant an annulment to a spouse who was slightly tipsy at the wedding. But a church tribunal may look more deeply into the issue of mature, informed consent and decide that the marriage was not valid by its standards. In such a case, the party could opt for a civil divorce and a religious annulment.
Contact our Miami family law firm for trustworthy advice on civil annulments
If you believe your marriage was invalidly formed, the experienced family law attorneys at Rafool, PLLC can give you the answers you need about civil annulment. For immediate assistance, call us at (305) 567-9400 or contact our Miami office online to schedule an initial consultation.