A divorce ends your marriage. An annulment also ends your marriage, however, an annulment means that your marriage was void at its inception or it is void due to fraud, duress, or not of proper age, to name a few. An annulment is harder to get than a divorce.

Most people want an annulment for religious reasons. However, to get an annulment you do not need a religious reason.

If you are granted an annulment, your marriage remains in the State’s record. If you had children, an annulment does not affect their status, they are still legitimate.

As with a divorce, if you are granted an annulment, the court is still empowered to make awards of child custody, child support, spousal maintenance and equitable distribution.

There are three categories of “marriages” that are void from their inception. This means that the marriage technically never happened and that you are not really “married.” Despite this fact, it is wise to have a court grant you an annulment declaring that your marriage was void from its inception.

The three categories of “marriages” that are void from their inception are:

1. Incestuous marriage: A marriage between a Father and Daughter, Brother and Sister, Aunt and Nephew are all examples of incestuous marriages. These marriages never existed. Indeed, a court can order a fine or even a prison term for parties that enter into an incestuous marriage.

2. You are not divorced from your former spouse: If you are not divorced and your former spouse is still living, then you cannot get re-married. New York does not recognize any bigamous marriages.

3. If your marriage was solemnized by someone not authorized to do so. There is a list of people who can perform a marriage. This list includes, but is not limited to, a religious leader, a leader of the Society for Ethical Culture, mayors, some magistrate, and judges. If your marriage was performed by someone who was not authorized to do so, you are not married.

There are other categories of “marriages” that qualify for an annulment. These marriages are valid until an annulment is granted. The categories are:

1. Age of consent: If both parties are over 18 years of age, then the age of consent has been met. If one or both parties are under the age of 18 years, then that person needs the written consent of his/her parents to get married. If a party is under the age of 16 years of age, then parental consent and a judge’s approval is required. In New York State, no one under the age of 14 years of age may get married.

2. Incapable of consent. If, at the time of the marriage, the person could not mentally understand that he/she was getting married, that marriage may be able to be annulled.

3. Incapable of entering into marriage due to physical cause. If, at the time of the marriage, the person was unable to have sexual relations, then the marriage may be able to be annulled.

4. Marriage was due to force, duress or fraud. If the marriage was brought about due to force, duress or fraud, then it may be annulled.

5. Incurable mental illness for five or more years. This category does not require that the mental illness exhibited at the time of the marriage. Anytime after the marriages, if one spouse develops an incurable mental illness for five years or more, then the marriage may be annulled.

If you considering a divorce or an annulment, then you need to hire an experienced attorney. David Badanes and the Badanes Law Office have helped numerous individuals in all areas of matrimonial and family law. If you need an attorney to represent you, then call David Badanes and the Badanes Law Office today at 631-239-1702, email at david@dbnylaw.com or visit our web site: www.dbnylaw.com. The Badanes Law Office has offices in Northport and Garden City.