Can I have my South Carolina Marriage Annulled?
While an uncommon way to end a marriage, annulment is an alternative to obtaining a divorce that is sometimes available. There are limited grounds in South Carolina upon which a marriage may be annulled. Read on for more detail on the reasons to consider an annulment, as well as the laws on when you may annul a marriage.
How is annulment different from divorce?
When a marriage is annulled, the marriage is seen in the eyes of the state as having never existed. By allowing an annulment, the court is saying that the marriage was never valid, whereas a divorce is the end of a valid marriage. Both spouses may say that they were never married after an annulment.
What are the grounds for annulment in South Carolina?
- Lack of consummation and cohabitation: A couple that never consummated their marriage may have grounds to annul that marriage. However, if the couple lived together for a time after the wedding, then the court may nevertheless consider an unconsummated marriage valid.
- Duress: where one of the spouses was forced against their will to enter into the marriage, with fear of bodily harm if they refused, that marriage will be voidable.
- Fraud: In order to show that a marriage occurred due to fraud, a spouse must show that the other spouse lied about a fact essential to the marital relationship, one that would make it impossible to perform the duties and obligations of marriage. Examples of fraudulent representations sufficient for annulment include either spouse’s dishonesty about his or her mental insanity, known inability to have children, or known impotency. The lying spouse must have known that they were deceiving the other spouse at the time of the marriage, though; if they only discovered that the fact was a lie after the wedding, then the marriage may not be annulled on those grounds.
- Incapacity: If the court determines that one of the spouses was mentally incapable of consenting to marry the other spouse, then the marriage would be considered void.
- Bigamy: If one of the spouses was legally married to someone else, the later marriage will be considered void. Even if a divorce is finalized in the prior marriage, the bigamy issue is not automatically resolved. An exception to this rule exists where the prior spouse has been missing for at least five years, and is presumed to have died.
- Underage: Marriages between couples where one or both are under 16 and where the parents did not offer the proper release are void.
- Incest: Marriages where the couple are too closely related to one another will be considered void.
When annulling a South Carolina marriage, the presiding judge may still decide such issues as property division, support, and child custody. However, there may be good reasons to seek a divorce even if you would qualify for an annulment. It’s advisable to speak with a family law attorney to help you understand the risks and benefits of both options to choose the best path for you and avoid any unintended consequences.
If you are seeking an attorney to handle your South Carolina annulment or divorce, contact the experienced, compassionate Spartanburg attorneys at the Cate Law Firm for a consultation, at 864-585-4226.