Voidable Marriages - otherwise known as an Annulment
From the start, let’s differentiate this topic from my previous post. A void marriage is a marriage that never existed because of some impediment or problem with the marriage itself. A voidable marriage on the other hand is a valid marriage, but for a reason discussed below the State of Texas and the courts will let one of the married parties out of it.
Following are the grounds for an annulment in Texas.
Under the age of 14 - Section 6.101 of the Family Code states that a marriage entered into by a person under the age of 14 can be challenged by an annulment proceeding anytime before that child reaches the age of 14. If the child is married before 14, but the lawsuit is filed after the child turns 14, the lawsuit is barred (cannot be filed) unless it is filed within the later of 1) 90 days after the person filing the annulment learned or should have learned of the marriage; or 2) 90 days after the date the child married turned 14. A suit cannot ever be filed if the child married before 14 years of age reaches the age of 18.
(It is important to note that a child cannot file a lawsuit, so any discussion of filing of lawsuits would be by the parent, guardian, etc… of the child. Another important note is that a court, in any under 14 marriage, can give permission if requested.)
So…if a child is married before the age of 14, everyone knows about it, and nothing is ever done, it seems that it is a valid marriage and only a divorce can dissolve it. That is creepy.
At least 14 but under 18 - Section 6.102 of the Family Code states that unless the court allows the marriage, or a parent consents, a suit to annul the marriage can be filed anytime by a parent or guardian before the child reaches 18 years of age.
At this age level, the court has discretion in whether they grant the annulment or not based upon the facts. In the scenario above (under 14) it is not discretionary and the court must grant the annulment.
Note that a parent can consent to this age level marriage.
Influence of Alcohol or Narcotics – Section 6.105 of the Family Code - This one is kind of obvious…if you are wasted when you get married, it can be annulled. To determine if this is the case, the Court looks to whether at the time of the marriage the person seeking the annulment was under the influence of alcohol or narcotics to the level that their consent to marriage is questionable and the person seeking the annulment did not live with the spouse since they sobered up.
Impotency – Section 6.106 of the Family Code - Ouch! I don’t even like to type that word! Bottom line guys, if you marry a girl when you are impotent and you don’t tell her, you could be getting an annulment. The only way this will not happen is if your wife continues to reside with you after learning of the impotency. Next topic!
Fraud, Duress, Force - Section 6.107 of the Family Code – To qualify for this one you must show that the other party used fraud, duress or force to get you to marry them and you did not live with them after you learned of the fraud or were released from the duress or force. In layman’s terms, if they trick you into getting married by lying or whatever, or they threaten you, you may be entitled to an annulment.
Mentally Incompetent - Section 6.108 of the Family Code – This one can be filed by a guardian on behalf of the incompetent person or by the mentally well person. If brought by someone on behalf of the mentally challenged person you must show that they did not have the mental ability to consent to the marriage and that they did not continue to live with the mentally competent person when they learned of the marriage.
A suit brought by the mentally competent party must show that they did not know the other person was mentally incompetent and that when they learned of the mental incompetency they ceased to live with the incompetent person.
Concealed Divorce - Section 6.109 of the Family Code – This one allows an annulment if you marry a person who was divorced from another person within 30 days of the marriage, you did not know this, and when you learned of it you did not continue to live with the person.
You can only use this provision within 1 year of the date of the marriage.
(Note: you will learn later that when you are divorced there is a thirty day waiting period before you can get remarried, unless the court waives the waiting period.)
Marriage within 72 hours of Licensing - Section 6.110 of the Family Code – You learned earlier in my blog (I think) that you have to get a license to get married in Texas (unless it is an informal marriage) and once you get that license you have to wait 72 hours, unless waived by the court. This section says that if you do not wait the 72 hours you can get an annulment.
You can only use this one for thirty days after the marriage.
A few final notes:
A marriage that was otherwise voidable for one of the reasons above disappears if one of the married parties dies;
There is no waiting period – you will learn later that a divorce cannot be finalized until 60 days after the petition for divorce is filed – that is not the case here.
You will notice that there is no provision for the duration of the marriage. I cannot tell you how many telephone calls I get asking if they can get an annulment because they have only been married for a month or a year or whatever. THERE IS NO ANNULMENT BECAUSE YOU HAVE BEEN MARRIED FOR ONLY A SHORT TIME. If you do not otherwise qualify under a provision above, it does not matter if you were married for one day…you must get a divorce.
The information contained in this blog is provided for informational (and sometimes entertainment) purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. I can guarantee you that I am not covering every facet of the family code, and there may be hidden gems in the Family Code that could make or break your case based upon your specific fact situation. No recipients of content from this blog, retained client or otherwise, should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any content included in this blog without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice. ALL CASES ARE DIFFERENT BECAUSE OF THE FACTS PARTICULAR TO YOUR CASE; THEREFORE YOU NEED A LAWYER TO DISCUSS THOSE SPECIFIC FACTS. I expressly disclaim all liability in respect to actions taken or not taken based on any or all of the content of this blog. Talk to a lawyer first, preferably me, it is that simple!