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Indiana Annulments
Annulments in Indiana

In order to get an annulment in Indiana, there must be a defect in the marriage that would have stopped the marriage from proceeding in the first place.

The qualifications and process for getting an annulment is found in Indiana Code, Title 31 Article 11, Chapters 8, 9 and 10.

In Indiana, an annulment and a divorce have different standards, procedures, and ramifications. An annulment declares a marriage invalid. This is different form a divorce, which might have obligations for spousal support and division of marital property. An annulment means the marriage never existed in the first place.

Children of the annulled marriage remain subject to child custody and support laws. In fact, because annulment makes it so the marriage never existed, children of an annulled marriage are the only ones to retain any legal rights and obligations. Children born from parents who are too closely related are still considered legitimate. Children born by married parents who discover that one spouse had another spouse living after the children were conceived are also considered legitimate.

A key element in all annulments of marriage in Indiana is the lack of either party to be in the proper frame of mind to consent for marriage. When this lack of consent is proven, then there will be an annulment.

Annulled partners can say that they were never legally married to each other.

A marriage with children may still be annulled. In some cases, the court may still decide that the children are legitimate. This means they can still inherit from either parent, and both parents have a duty to financially support the child.

Grounds

In Indiana, a marriage may be void on the following grounds:

  • one spouse was underage at the time of marriage;
  • one spouse was convinced to marry by fraud;
  • one spouse was coerced to get married (married "under duress");
  • one spouse didn't know the other spouse was already married at the time of marriage, which is bigamy;
  • one spouse was mentally incompetent at the time of marriage;
  • the spouses are more closely related than second cousins, or
  • the marriage is a common law marriage that happened after January 1, 1958.

Some of these grounds have additional requirements for an annulment to be granted. For example:

  • A marriage is voidable if a party to the marriage was incapable because of age or mental incompetency at the time of contracting the marriage.
  • A marriage is voidable if the marriage was brought about through fraud on the part of one of the parties to the marriage.

Some qualifications should be noted. The failure of one underage partner to get the required parental consent is not enough for an annulment; however, when one spouse didn't know the other spouse was underage, the marriage may be annulled.

If one spouse lied about things that are not essential to the marriage, such as a first marriage that ended in divorce, that fraud is not enough for an annulment. However, if one spouse lies about being married at the same time of a second marriage, that deceit is enough for an annulment.

Moreover, when a spouse continues to live with the other spouse after finding out about the fraud, he or she may no longer be eligible for an annulment. If the spouses are first cousins but were married after September 1, 1977 and both are over 65 years old, the marriage is not eligible for annulment.

Procedure

The appellant files a Petition for Annulment in the superior court of the county of residence. The filing spouse is the petitioner; the other spouse is the respondent. The petition states that both have been residents of Indiana for at least six months, and the petitioner has been a resident of the county of filing for at least three months. The petition should identify which of the legal grounds for the annulment it is being filed on.

The petition is entitled, "In Re the marriage of _________ and __________." The petitioner must include proof of eligibility, names and ages of any children resulting from the marriage, and any relief desired. A circuit or superior court has jurisdiction in the case. The appropriate forms can be obtained online, from a lawyer, or in the court clerk's office. Like a divorce action, the appellant needs to appear at a hearing before a judge and give evidence.

The petitioner appears in court and explains to the judge the reasons for the annulment. If the judge agrees, he or she signs an order granting it. The judge can also sign an order granting the annulment if the other partner agrees that the marriage should be annulled. This is called an Agreed Annulment. The agreed annulment states that the respondent knew the reason the marriage was not supposed to take place and that the petitioner was unaware of that reason. Once the judge signs the agreed annulment, the annulment is complete.

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