Chester County Annulment Lawyer
Dissolving a Marriage Without a Divorce in Chester County
There are many reasons people marry and even more when they choose to get divorced. But here in Chester County, an annulment is a very specific legal method of ending a marriage. Unlike a divorce, which involves carefully dissolving a marriage contract and dividing all related property, an annulment makes a marriage void.
If you need legal representation in an annulment, reach out to our team at the Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz, P.C. Our lead Chester County annulment attorney can sit down with you in a free initial consultation to explain your rights and how to move forward with an annulment. To discuss your case, call us at (610) 645-0100 today.
What Is an Annulment?
An annulment is a legal proceeding wherein a judge makes a marriage void. In contrast, a divorce involves dismantling and dividing every aspect of a marriage, from property to insurance policies to parental rights. A divorce acknowledges that a marriage was legal and valid, and has come to an end; an annulment treats the marriage as if it never legally existed.
When Do Chester County Courts Approve Annulments?
Annulments only apply to specific circumstances in Pennsylvania, which can be classified into two scenarios: void marriages and voidable marriages.
Void marriages are marriages that were never legal in Pennsylvania. These include:
- Incapable of Consenting: Marriage is founded on the mutual and willing agreement between two adults. If one party did not have the mental capacity to agree to the marriage, for example, by suffering from insanity, then the marriage could be considered invalid.
- Bigamy: The state of Pennsylvania does not allow an individual to have multiple spouses. If your spouse is still legally married to another individual, then your marriage would be invalid.
- Consanguinity: Consanguinity means that two individuals are related by blood, such as parent and child, siblings, or first cousins. Marriages with consanguinity are not legal in Pennsylvania.
Since void marriages are not legal, you do not need a court to approve an annulment. Instead, the marriage is automatically made void and does not require legal action.
In contrast, a voidable marriage is a marriage that is valid under some circumstances but can be made void by a judge. Voidable marriages include:
- Marriages where at least one spouse was under the age of 16 and did not receive the consent of a parent or the court.
- Marriages where either spouse was intoxicated at the time of the marriage ceremony and one member requested an annulment within 60 days.
- Marriages in which one member was impotent and the other spouse was not aware.
- Marriages in which one member entered the marriage under fraud, force, duress, or coercion.
With voidable marriages, you need to go before a judge to have the marriage voided through an annulment. Generally, if you can prove one of the above points during the hearing, your annulment will be granted. However, if the other party contests your petition, then you will want to have an experienced Chester County annulment lawyer at your side to support your case.
Complex Issues With Annulments
While annulments may not have the complex process of dividing property, they are not always simple. If you had children with your spouse and the marriage was void or voidable, then there are still grounds for child custody and child support orders. Unless you can come to an agreement outside of the court, you will need to go before a judge to determine how your custody plan will be structured and who will receive child support.
Talk About Your Case in a Free Consultation
Annulments are rarer than divorces, which is why you should only trust your case to an experienced Chester County family law attorney. At the Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz, P.C., our lead attorney has more than 25 years of experience guiding clients through Pennsylvania family court proceedings and advocating for their best interests. We can sit down with you in a free initial consultation and explain all of your options. Call us today at (610) 645-0100 to learn about your rights.