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Minnesota Annulments
Annulments in Minnesota

Divorce ends an existing, valid marriage; annulment declares a marriage was never a legal marriage at all. In the eyes of the law, an annulled marriage never existed.

Grounds

Minnesota Statutes 518.02 to 518.05 state that grounds for an annulment include:

  • No voluntary consent from one party because of a) mental illness, b) insanity, c) mental incapacity, d) intoxication, e) force or duress. This applies when one partner lacks the capacity to agree because it was obtained by force or fraud, or because of mental issues, or because of the influence of alcohol or other intoxicating drugs. This cannot be used as a ground for annulment if the spouses choose to live together afterward. For example, if a partner chooses to live with the other spouse after recovering from mental illness, then mental incapacitation cannot be used.
  • Impotence because one partner lacks the physical ability to consummate the marriage sexually and that fact is hidden.
  • Bigamy: one or both parties are legally married to other people. The marriage is prohibited and is void and cannot be made legal. One or both parties who are married to someone else cannot legally enter into another marriage without successfully dissolving the prior marriage.
  • Incestuous marriages, which are between spouses who are closely related by blood or adoption, (in addition to bigamous marriages, where one spouse is still legally married to a another, living person) are void from the start.
  • Underage: One spouse was underage and didn't have the consent of a parent or guardian to marry. Underage can't be cited as the basis for an annulment if the spouses chose to live together after the minor spouse reaches a majority.

For an annulment to be awarded by the court, there can be no prior knowledge of these grounds. So, for example, if a woman married someone who was impotent without knowing it, she can pursue an annulment.

Other grounds for the annulment of marriage include:

  • No Marriage License: A person who marries without a license is not legally married.
  • Invalid Marriage Ceremony: A marriage requires a valid ceremony by an ordained person or a courthouse official authorized to preside over marriages.
  • No Parental Consent for Minors: In Minnesota, the law states that individuals between the ages of 15 and 18 require parental consent to get married. Without parental consent, the marriage is void.
  • No Witnesses: A valid marriage requires at least two witnesses.

Statutes of limitations, which are legal deadlines, apply to annulment actions. Courts dismiss petitions for annulment filed too late. A missed deadline means the petitioner must get a divorce. The deadlines include:

  • In cases of lack of consent due to mental incapacity, intoxication, force, or fraud, no later than 90 days after the petitioner learns about the problem. In cases of mental incapacity, either the spouse or their legal representative can file for annulment.
  • In cases of physical inability to consummate, either spouse may file no later than one year after learning about the problem.
  • In cases where one spouse was underage at the time of the marriage, the underage spouse's parent or guardian must file for annulment before the underage person reaches the legal age of consent.

In an annulment, Minnesota applies divorce laws to the property rights of the spouses, as well as maintenance and support, and custody of children. Minnesota law maintains "the parent and child relationship may exist regardless of the marital status of the parents." Minnesota's presumptions of paternity apply when a father and mother attempt to marry but the marriage is later declared invalid, so the judge makes decisions about child support, custody, and parenting time.

Minnesota’s laws require an equitable division of the couple’s property and debts in an annulment case.

Procedure

Annulment petitioners file actions in Minnesota's district courts, family division, in the judicial district where either spouse lives. The procedural rules of divorce actions apply to annulment cases.

In Minnesota, there are no official court forms to file for an annulment. The petitioner’s complaint should, at a minimum, explain the law and facts that support the request for an annulment and identify the couple's children, assets, and debts. That’s not all the information that should be included, but it’s a listing of some of the essentials. After the petitioner files and serves the petition for annulment, the respondent can file an answer, which admits or denies any or all allegations in the complaint.

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