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Virginia Annulments
Annulments in Virginia

An annulment is a legal maneuver which erases a marriage, making it void; the state recognizes and grants annulments. However, to attain an annulment of marriage in Virginia, the filing partners must meet certain conditions.

Grounds

To qualify for annulments of marriage in Virginia, one of the following conditions must be met: 1) there must be some sort of defect in the marriage; 2) the marriage must have involved some kind of fraud; or 3) one of the parties must have withheld important information from the other party. For example, one of the spouses lied about being actively married or lied about impotence or the inability to have children.

Defects can lead to an Annulment of Marriage in Virginia. They include:

  • The individual officiating at the wedding ceremony was not legally qualified to do so.
  • The marriage license was not valid.
  • Bigamy; One of the parties was married to someone else at the time of the marriage.
  • Underage; One or both of the parties was too young to legally marry.

Fraud means one or both of the parties hid valuable information pertaining to mental illness or addiction. A partner attempting to prove fraud must prove that the partner severely misled him or her, that the misrepresentation was ultimately intentional, that the plaintiff suffered because of this action, and that the plaintiff “fully trusted” the defendant.

Withholding of Information means significant information that cause rifts in the marriage, including information concerning felony convictions or a criminal history, information concerning Impotence, information concerning pregnancy outside of the marriage within 10 months of the wedding date.

In Virginia a marriage may be annulled if it is void, such as when it is:

  • incestuous
  • underage
  • bigamous

A marriage may also be annulled if it is voidable, such as if:

  • one spouse was coerced into the marriage
  • one spouse was defrauded (for example, by a foreign spouse who married to obtain immigration benefits)
  • one spouse was a convicted felon
  • one spouse is impotent
  • one spouse is a current or former prostitute on the wedding date without the knowledge of the other spouse;
  • one spouse was mentally incompetent to consent to marriage on the wedding date
  • without the husband's knowledge, the wife was pregnant with a child not fathered by the husband on the wedding date
  • the husband fathered a child with another woman who was born within 10 months of the wedding date.

In Virginia, an annulment for voidable marriage must be filed within two years of the marriage; the statute of limitations does not apply to void marriages.

Procedure

The complainant gathers all supporting evidence needed to establish grounds for annulment, for example, the other spouse's undisclosed criminal history, and he or she obtains a Virginia Form VS-4 and a civil summons form from the clerk of the Civil Intake Division of the Virginia Circuit Court that sits in the county where at least one spouse has resided for at least six months.

He or she prepares and signs the Bill of Complaint, which provides information about both spouses,where and when they married, and the grounds for annulment. It also includes any desired relief about issues of child support, alimony, child custody and property division terms. The Bill of Complaint is signed in the presence of a notary public and is prepared in triplicate.

The Form VS-4 requires basic information for vital statistics, and the summons notifies the respondent of the annulment hearing. All of the forms must be notarized. The complainant submits Form VS-4 and two copies of the Bill of Complaint to the court clerk of the court sitting in the county of filing, and pays the filing fees, which vary by jurisdiction. The court then sets a hearing date.

The complainant then submits the summons to the sheriff's office with jurisdiction over other spouse's county of residence, if he or she resides in Virginia. If the other spouse is not a resident of Virginia, the complainant completes a notarized affidavit stating he or she lives out of state and provides the last known address. The complainant must then deliver the Bill of Complaint, the summons and affidavit to the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Virginia. The sheriff's office or the Secretary notifies the court when these documents have been served on the other spouse.

The complainant attends the hearing and brings all supporting evidence. If the other spouse opposes the annulment, the judge may set a trial date.

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