Marriage Annulment in Pennsylvania

When couples are considering divorce, many often wonder if their marriage can be annulled. What seems like a simple alternative to going through the divorce process is in fact a slightly more convoluted area of domestic relations. To qualify for marriage annulment in Pennsylvania, there must be either a void or voidable marriage which requires certain requirements be met.

The provisions set forth in 23 Pa.C.S. § 3305(a) describe the conditions that comprise a voidable marriage. Voidable refers to the validity of the marriage, one that was flawed in its establishment. Whether or not it becomes voided depends upon the action of a party seeking annulment; without a party seeking an annulment, the marriage will stay enforceable and valid. If seeking marriage annulment in Pennsylvania, there are certain time frame provisions to consider as well.

Voidable marriages

A marriage annulment filed with the Pennsylvania court requires the existence of the following conditions for a marriage to be considered voidable:

  1. Age: unless the marriage was authorized by the court, and either party to the marriage was under the age of 16.
  2. Age: if either party was 16 or 17 years old, lacked the consent of the parent, guardian, or court, and the marriage was not ratified when either party reached 18, and an action for annulment is filed within 60 days of the marriage ceremony.
  3. Influence: if either party to the marriage was under the influence of alcohol or drugs AND an action for annulment is filed with the court within 60 days of the marriage ceremony.
  4. Impotence: if either party to the marriage was at the time of the marriage and remains to be naturally and incurably impotent, unless the condition was known to the other party.
  5. Fraud: if a one of the parties was induced to enter into the marriage by fraud, duress, coercion or force attributable to the other party, unless there has been voluntary cohabitation after the knowledge of the fraud or release from the effects of the fraud, duress coercion, or force.

Void Marriages

An annulment can occur when a marriage is deemed void pursuant to 23 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 3304. Where there is no confirmation by cohabitation, an alleged marriage may be deemed void in the following cases:

  1. Pre-existing marriage: if either party at the time of such marriage had an existing spouse and the former marriage had not been annulled nor had there been a divorce except where that party had obtained a decree of presumed death of the former spouse.
  2. Incest: if the parties to such marriage are related within the degrees of consanguinity prohibited by section 1304(e) (relating to restrictions on issuance of license).
  3. Incapacity of a party: if either party to such marriage was incapable of consenting by reason of insanity or serious mental disorder or otherwise lacked capacity to consent or did not intend to consent to the marriage.
  4. Age: if either party to a purported common-law marriage was under 18 years of age.

While it is not a simple alternative to divorce, there do exist cases in Pennsylvania that qualify for marriage annulment. Taking into consideration the division of property, assets and other equitable distribution matters, annulment should be discussed at length with an experienced Bucks county divorce lawyer. Contact the Law Offices of Michael Kuldiner, P.C. at (215) 942-2100 to schedule a consultation.