Amanda Crowell Partner
Can I have my Marriage Annulled?
I am frequently contacted by potential clients who tell me that they have only been married for a short period – maybe a few days or a few weeks. They do not want to have to go through the divorce process and wonder if they can have their marriage annulled instead.
The answer depends upon whether you have grounds for an annulment. Those grounds have nothing to do with the length of the marriage. If a marriage is annulled, it means that because of some defect, no valid marriage ever occurred between the parties. There is one ground for annulment in Tennessee law. If either of the parties is under the age of 16 years, the marriage may be annulled by one of the parties or by any interested person acting on his or her behalf. (T.C.A. 36-3-105.) Otherwise, annulment is based upon equity, and the Chancery Court has inherent jurisdiction. The grounds upon which Chancery Court could declare a marriage to be annulled are the following:
1) Prior existing marriage. State law requires that a party be married to only one person.
2) Violation of statute. Parties must follow the mandatory provisions of the Marriage Act set forth in T.C.A. 36-3-306 pertaining to a marriage license, ceremony, etc.
3) Denial of Marital Rights. Parties must consummate the marriage and cohabitate unless otherwise agreed between the parties. One party may not have a secret intention to create a sham with the marriage.
4) Mental Capacity. Both parties must be able to form the requisite intent to consent to the marriage.
5) Impotency. This is defined as the inability to consummate the marriage which existed prior to the marriage and which is permanent, incurable, or the party refuses to submit to treatment.
6) Duress. This is coercion which renders the party incapable of freely consenting to the marriage. It may be by force, restraint or threat.
7) Fraud. The fraud must have been calculated to induce the marriage, and the innocent party must have relied upon such inducement.
If you believe you have grounds for annulment, it is important to speak with an attorney who can examine the facts of your case and determine if an annulment is appropriate in your situation.