Maybe there was something amiss in your relationship from the start. Something you felt but couldn’t quite prove, or truly understand what it was. Now, with the “I do” behind you, you wish you never had gone through with it. But is divorce your only option? Perhaps not, especially if the terms of the marriage were never valid in the first place. The Tennessee annulment attorneys of Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard, PLLC explain.
Grounds for an Annulment in Tennessee
There is a difference between a divorce and annulment as well as a difference between a church annulment and a court annulment. For the purposes of this blog, we will strictly be covering a court annulment.
In order to secure a court annulment for your Tennessee marriage, you must illustrate at least one of the following terms:
- Insanity: If one spouse was insane or unable to understand the nature of marriage when the spouses married, they may get an annulment unless that spouse regains sanity during the marriage and continues to live with the other spouse.
- Underage: One or both spouses were underaged; however, in Tennessee, the legal age for marriage is 16 but if one spouse was under the age of 16 but had court permission to marry, the marriage will not be annulled.
- Incest: The spouses are related and closer than first cousins.
- Bigamy: If one spouse is already married to another, the second marriage can be annulled, unless the other spouse was missing for at least five years with no sign of life.
- Duress: The marriage resulted from an act of coercion.
- Fraud: One spouse defrauded the other into getting married. This can include a wife claiming she is pregnant by her now-husband, pressuring him into marriage but it is someone else’s child, or a partner claiming they can have children, knowing they physically cannot. The fraud must be essential to the relationship.
- Impotence: One spouse cannot physically have intercourse and the impotence existed before the marriage and is permanent. This does not include infertility.
- Denial of marital rights: One spouse refuses to live with or have sexual relations with the other during the marriage.
If one of the above terms exist, the marriage can be annulled as if it never happened. However, upon court approval, a judge will handle similar terms as if it was a divorce like custody, visitation, child support, alimony, and property division.
An important point to be made is that, while an annulled marriage is one that was never valid, it does not mean children who were born during that marriage are illegitimate. Under Tennessee law, those children are legitimate and have a right to be financially supported by their parents and can inherit property from either parent.
Annulments are a useful tool in Tennessee, especially for those who have been wronged by their partner on the validity of their marriage. If you have questions about a Tennessee annulment, contact the family law professionals of Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard, PLLC. For decades, our attorneys have been handling family law cases across Middle Tennessee, and we can help you decide what the best course of action is for your marriage.