Kansas City, Missouri Attorney for Annulment
Our Kansas City, Missouri law firm has extensive experience in proceedings for declaration of invalidity of marriage, commonly known as an annulment. In Missouri, an annulment is different from a dissolution of marriage (divorce) in that a dissolution terminates a valid marriage as of the date of the divorce decree, whereas an annulment declares the marriage invalid from its very beginning.
In Missouri, there is a very strong presumption that the marriage is valid, and a strong public policy in favor of marriage. This, in short, means that an annulment is difficult to obtain in Missouri, as the case must fit into one of several specific categories. Annulment in Missouri applies to two types of "marriages": void marriages and voidable marriages. Void marriages are marriages that were never legal to begin with, and thus invalid. Voidable marriages are presumed to be valid to begin with.
If you are seeking an annulment in Missouri or have questions about whether your marriage can be annulled, we encourage you to contact Kansas City family law attorney Mark A. Wortman for assistance.
Grounds for Annulment in Missouri
The following "marriages" are either void or voidable under Missouri law, and most can be terminated by an annulment proceeding:
Spouses are Relatives
The following decrees of relationships between spouses constitute a void marriage: parents and children, grandparents and grandchildren, whole and half-siblings, uncles and nieces, aunts and nephews, and first cousins. This type of marriage can be terminated by an annulment.
Common Law Marriage
A common law marriage is recognized in some states when a couple hold themselves out to be married for a certain number of years, they become married by operation of law. This is not recognized in Missouri and is a void marriage.
Lack of Mental Capacity
A marriage between spouses when one spouse did not have the mental capacity to enter into the contract of marriage is void. This can include insanity (distinguished from mental illness, which alone is not sufficient for annulment), intoxication at the time of marriage, or unconsciousness.
Duration of Marriage
The fact that a marriage is of a short duration, in and of itself, is not grounds for annulment in Missouri.
In Missouri, the legal age to marry is 18, unless there is written consent of the minor's custodial parent. Also, a person under the age of 15 cannot legally marry without a court order showing good cause due to unusual conditions making the marriage advisable.
Failure to Consummate
Failure to consummate the marriage by having sexual intercourse is not grounds for annulment, unless it falls within the categories of either fraud or sexual impotence as described above.
A bigamous marriage occurs when one of the spouses was already married at the time of the marriage, and is void. However, to terminate the marriage by annulment, the moving party has the burden to show satisfactory proof to the court that the previous marriage existed, was valid, and was not terminated by divorce or death.
Annulment or Divorce — Implications
When dealing with a voidable marriage where a party has a choice between annulment and divorce, a thorough case analysis must be made, as the body of law is different for marriages that end in divorce as opposed to those that end in annulment. If the marriage is declared null and void from the beginning, it is as if it never existed, and the dissolution of marriage laws governing property division, maintenance, child support, child custody, attorney fees, and restraining orders will not apply. Depending on the case, this can have serious implications and may make the case much more complicated than a divorce proceeding. It is important to discuss the implications of an annulment proceeding thoroughly with a qualified divorce and family law attorney before making the decision to proceed.
Consult with an Experienced Lawyer About Annulment in Missouri
The choice of a divorce or annulment attorney is an important one. Mark A. Wortman is an experienced Kansas City annulment, divorce, and family attorney. Please call 816-523-6100 or contact us today to arrange for a consultation. We are always happy to help.