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Tennessee Annulments
Annulments in Tennessee

Like many jurisdictions, Tennessee annuls marriages that are either void or voidable. Tennessee law on annulment is in the Tennessee Code Annotated 36-3-101 102; 36-4-125; 36-3-113.

Grounds

Here are the grounds for annulment:

  • Insanity; a spouse was insane or unable to understand the nature of marriage when he or she married. The courts will not annul a marriage when a spouse who was insane at the time of marriage regains sanity during the marriage and continues to live with the other spouse.
  • Underage; one or both spouses were too young to be married. The legal age for marriage in Tennessee is 16. The court will not annul a marriage when a spouse was under 16 and had permission from a circuit court judge to marry. A parent or guardian can file for the annulment in place of the underage spouse.
  • Incest; the spouses are related, closer than first cousins.
  • Bigamy; one spouse has a living husband or wife at the time of marriage.
  • Duress; a spouse only married because they were coerced.
  • Fraud; one spouse defrauded the other into getting married. In an annulment, the fraud has to be essential to the marriage. For example, if one spouse was sterilized before the marriage but did not tell the other person, that may be grounds for annulment.
  • Impotence; one spouse physically cannot have sexual intercourse. The impotence has to be permanent, and it has to have existed before the marriage.
  • Denial of marital rights; one spouse refuses to live with the other or have sexual relations during the marriage. The spouses must have never lived together or had sexual intercourse. Courts will not annul the marriage of spouses who agree not to live together.

In Tennessee, the plaintiff in an annulment can request the custody of children but not alimony. However, when legal grounds for divorce are also grounds for annulment - for example, impotence and bigamy - the plaintiff can file for divorce in order to obtain alimony and an equitable division of the marital property. An annulment requires the court to restore property to the parties who owned it prior to the voidable marriage.

Procedure

Either partner needs to have lived in Tennessee for six months to file for annulment. The filing partner is the plaintiff; the other partner is the defendant. The plaintiff files a Complaint for Annulment in the county court. The court clerk may provide a model of the complaint.

The complaint for annulment includes the name, address and date of birth for each spouse, the names and dates of birth for any children, and identifies the party who has lived in Tennessee for at least six months. It lists desired relief including child custody, visitation, child support, alimony or property division.

The plaintiff arranges for delivery of a copy of the complaint to the defendant. The clerk’s office will explain the options for service, including options if the defendant lives out of state or cannot be found.

The court schedules a hearing where the plaintiff proves the legal grounds for annulment. Evidence and witnesses may be used to support a claim for annulment. If the judge believes the argument, he or she signs an order granting the annulment.

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