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Texas Annulments
Annulments in Texas

Texas annulment and prohibited marriage laws are similar to other jurisdictions. In Texas, like other jurisdictions, a divorce ends a valid marriage, while an annulment erases a marriage that was never legal. Annulment legally invalidates a marriage that was either void or voidable.'

The full text of Texas law on annulment is in the Texas Family Code sections 6.101-6.206.

Grounds

In order to annul in Texas, the petitioner must show one of several legal grounds.

Void marriage annulment grounds are:

  • incest, when the spouses are related, closer than first cousins;
  • bigamy, when one or both spouses remain in another marriage that was not terminated before the bigamous marriage.

Voidable annulment grounds are:

  • underage, when one spouse was under the legal age to get married;
  • intoxication, when one spouse was too intoxicated during the ceremony to consent to marriage;
  • impotence, when one spouse is permanently unable to have sexual intercourse;
  • fraud, when one spouse lied about or hid something essential to the marriage
  • duress or force, when one spouse was coerced, threatened, or forced to get married

These grounds for annulment come with conditions. These include:

  • In the case of bigamy, if a spouse has another husband or wife at the time of the bigamous marriage, the spouse can still have a valid marriage if the first marriage ends and the spouses of the subsequent marriage live together. When this happens, however, the marriage can’t be annulled later.
  • In the case of an underage marriage, one of the partners has to file, unless the one to file is the one that is underage. When the filing partner is underage, a parent or guardian files for the annulment on his or her behalf. The legal age to get married in Texas is 18, or 16 with a parent’s consent or a court order. Once a spouse achieves a majority, the spouse can’t file for an annulment based on being underage.
  • In the case of intoxication, the court will not grant an annulment based on intoxication if the spouses lived together once sober.
  • In the case of sexual inadequacy, impotence must be permanent for an annulment. No annulment will be granted if the petitioner knew about the impotence at the time of marriage, or voluntarily lived with the impotent spouse after that.
  • In the case of fraud, duress or force, the court will not grant an annulment if the spouses lived together after the fraud was discovered or the duress or force is no longer present. Only major fraud about something essential to the marriage will be enough for an annulment. For example, a husband whose wife didn’t tell him about five of her eight previous marriages was granted an annulment; however, a wife who lying about being a virgin isn’t enough for an annulment.
  • In the case of a concealed divorce, the action must be brought before the first anniversary of marriage.
  • Marriages in Texas require a 72-hour waiting period from the time the license was issued. If the wedding takes place before that 72 hours, the marriage may be annulled, but the action must happen within 30 days of the ceremony.

When a marriage is declared void, the partners can say they were never married; however, the court can still decide divorce-related issues, such as custody, visitation, child support, alimony, and property division.

Children born from void marriages are still legitimate; they have the same rights as children from valid marriages. They must be financially supported by both parents and inherit from either parent.

Procedure

A party requests an annulment by filing an action entitled “A Suit to Declare Void the Marriage of [Petitioner] and [Respondent].” The person asking for the annulment is the petitioner; the other spouse is the respondent.

The petitioner files the lawsuit in the district court for the county where either spouse lives. One or the other spouse must have lived in Texas for at least six months and in the county of filing for at least 90 days.

The annulment paperwork lists the full names of both spouses and any children. It identifies the spouse who has lived in the county for at least 90 days; lists the date of the marriage and the date the partners stopped living together. It also lists desired relief, including custody, visitation and property division.

After the suit is filed, the respondent must be served.

Unlike most other states, Texas allows spouses to insist on a jury trial in annulment actions. This means the parties receive a hearing in front of either a judge or a jury of 12 residents from the county. The petitioner must present the case for annulment to the judge or jury. If the judge or jury accepts the argument, the marriage will be declared void.

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