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Wisconsin Annulments
Annulments in Wisconsin

A divorce dissolves a marriage, whereas an annulment erases it. An annulment means the marriage never legally existed, and both spouses can say they were never married to each other; however, the court can still decide child custody, visitation, child support, alimony, and property division.

Children of an annulled marriage are legitimate; they have the right to inherit from both parents and the right to be financially supported by both parents.

The Wisconsin Statutes, Chapter 767, Subchapter IV describes the state annulment law.

Grounds

Here are legal grounds for annulling a marriage:

  • Underage means a spouse was too young to legally marry in Wisconsin, which is 18, 16 or 17 with consent from a parent or guardian, or under 16 with consent from a parent or guardian and a court.
  • Mental Incapacity means one party was mentally impaired (including intoxication) to the degree that he or she did not understand the marriage.
  • Force or duress means one party was forced, coerced, or threatened to marry.
  • Fraud means one spouse lied about or hid something essential to the marriage.
  • Impotence means one spouse physically cannot have sexual intercourse;
  • Bigamy means one spouse has a living husband or wife at the time or marriage.
  • Incest means the spouses are first cousins or closer.
  • Recently divorced means the spouses married within six months of one spouse’s divorce.

Lack of consent must be considered. For example, when a person is mentally unstable – either by mental illness or intoxication – legally a person cannot be reasonably able to make the decision to marry.

Here are some conditions attached to annulments in Wyoming:

  • If the underage spouse had what is termed “correct consent” when he or she married, the marriage will not be annulled later because a spouse is underage, nor will it be annulled after the underage spouse turns 18. A parent or guardian can file for annulment on behalf of an underage spouse. There is a one-year time limit for filing for annulment on grounds of underage.
  • In the case of force or duress, either must have been present on the date of the marriage.
  • Fraud must relate to something essential to the marriage, which means that the misrepresentation must be something that would have prevented the marriage if both spouses knew, such as the ability to have children.
  • In the case of impotence, the ground can only be used when one spouse didn’t know about the other’s inability to have sexual intercourse at the time of the marriage.
  • In the case of diminished mental incapacity, force, duress, fraud or impotence, a party must file for annulment within one year of the discovery of the reason for annulment.

Procedure

The filing spouse is the plaintiff or petitioner; the other spouse is the defendant or respondent. The petitioner needs to have lived in Wisconsin at least 30 days to file.

The petitioner files a Petition for Annulment in the circuit court in the county where either one or the other spouse lives.

The petition includes the spouses’ names, addresses, and occupations, the names of any children and their dates of birth, the place and date of marriage, the last place of residence. It also lists the grounds for annulment, and it includes any desired relief, such as child custody, visitation, child support, alimony, and property division.

After filing the complaint, the respondent must be served a copy of the annulment papers. There are options for service even if the respondent lives out of state or cannot be found.

After service, the family court schedules a hearing to hear the plaintiff’s argument for annulment. At the hearing, he or she can bring any evidence and witnesses to prove the argument. If the judge agrees he or she grants the annulment.

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