A street sign with the word Marriage and Divorce to signify Annulment

Under Florida annulment law, once a marriage is legally formed, it can only be terminated by death or court order. The court can terminate the marriage by issuing either a dissolution of marriage (divorce) or by annulment. In a divorce, the court dissolves/ ends the marriage. See Florida divorce law 61.052. On the other hand, an annulment voids the marriage as if it never existed.

Under Florida law, a dissolution of marriage is granted when there are irreconcilable differences. An annulment, however, is granted if a judge determines that there was never a valid marriage. To be eligible for an annulment, there must be a defect in the formation of the marriage. If the marriage was legally created a divorce will be required. For information about a specific annulment case in Florida, contact a divorce lawyer in Tampa. Many divorce law firms in the Tampa Bay area will offer free consultations for annulment cases.

Requirements For a Valid Florida Marriage

Florida law has many requirements to form a valid marriage. For instance, a couple must secure a marriage license and then solemnize the marriage with a ceremony. The marriage license must be issued by either a Florida county court judge or clerk of the court, and the marriage license will expire within 60 days unless there is a ceremony administrated by an authorized official. An authorized official can be an ordained minister, elder, or another clergy of any church. Also, the clerk of the circuit court or a notary of the State of Florida can formalize a marriage.

What Is An Annulment?

In an annulment, the court declares that the marriage never legally existed, and the parties return to the status they were before the marriage. Unlike a divorce, there is no property division or alimony in an annulment in Florida. To have a marriage annulled in Florida, it must be either void or voidable. A void marriage never existed in the eyes of the law. On the other hand, a voidable marriage remains in effect until it is annulled.  Under Florida law, only marriages which involve bigamy, incest, or parties of the same sex are void.  Conversely, a marriage is voidable if it was obtained by fraud, duress, or temporary insanity.

Is The Marriage Void Or Voidable?

For a marriage to be invalid, it must be either void or voidable. A void marriage is one that should never have been permitted to form under the existing law. For example, one or both spouses are currently married when attempting to marry each other. On the other hand, a voidable marriage is one that had grounds to exist when the marriage started, but something has been learned later that should nullify the marriage. For instance, lying about a fundamental aspect of the marriage can be the basis for a voidable marriage.

How To Get An Annulment In Florida

There is no specific statute that governs annulments in Florida. Therefore, judges must reference case law to determine if an annulment is appropriate in each case. This means that the judge will look at previous cases for guidance. If you found a prior annulment case with similar facts, you can use that to sway the judge. Either spouse may be permitted to file for an annulment in Florida. In some instances, an annulment case may even be filed after the parties are deceased. However, if the marriage is only voidable, at least one spouse must be alive and a party to the case. See Florida annulment case. Arnelle v. Fisher.

Alimony In a Florida Annulment

If an annulment is granted, the law will treat the relationship as if there was never a marriage. Therefore, there will be no marital assets or property to divide in an annulment. Instead, the parties leave with the property they began the relationship with. Usually, alimony is also not granted in Florida annulment cases. However, in rare circumstances, alimony can be awarded in an annulment. For instance, in Kindle v. Kindle, the court awarded the wife permanent alimony with the annulment. The judge felt the wife was an innocent victim, and to deny alimony after a twenty-year marriage would be unjust.

Annulment Based On Duress

Duress can be used as a legal means to annul a marriage. If the petitioner entered into the marriage solely because of duress, they might be eligible for an annulment. Duress is a degree of pressure that is so strong it deprives the victim of the capacity to refuse the marriage. See Florida Supreme Court case, Beeks v. Beeks. The duress must be shown with clear and convincing evidence.

Additionally, accepting benefits of marriage, such as cohabitation or consummation after the duress has ceased, may ratify the marriage. If the marriage has been ratified, it may not be eligible for an annulment in Florida. Instead, the parties may need to file for a dissolution of marriage.

Annulment Case For Fraud

Fraud can occur if there was an intentional misrepresentation of fact, with the knowledge that the other party would rely on it. The victim must also have relied on the misrepresentation when consenting to the marriage. For instance, entering into a marriage with no intention of living as husband and wife can be considered fraud. On the other hand, failing to follow through with a promise is not fraud unless the promisor had no intention of fulfilling the promise at the time it was made.

Additionally, for annulment cases involving fraud, time is of the essence. The party seeking the annulment must do so within a reasonable time after discovering the fraud. If too much time passes, a dissolution of marriage may be required. The amount of time will vary based on the circumstances of each case, contact a divorce lawyer for advice.

Requirements For Divorce In Florida

A divorce is more common because an annulment can only be granted in limited circumstances. Florida is a no-fault divorce state. Therefore, you don’t need to prove adultery or other reasons for a divorce. All Florida divorce law requires is there be irreconcilable differences. Conversely, an annulment has a much higher burden of proof. Plus, the party seeking the annulment has the burden of proving the grounds for the annulment. In cases such as these, it is essential to hire an experienced divorce law firm in Tampa.

Consult a 5-Star Annulment Law Firm In Tampa Bay

If you need assistance with an annulment in Florida, contact Florida Law Advisers, P.A. to speak with an attorney. We can review the specifics of your case and provide the legal advice you need to make an informed decision. If there are grounds for an annulment, we can draft all the paperwork and expedite the case through court. If an annulment is not possible, we can assist with filing for divorce to end the marriage as quickly as possible. The initial consultation is free and can be done over the phone. To speak with an annulment lawyer at our firm, call us at (800) 990 7763.