A: When certain circumstances, exist, a court can grant a marriage annulment, which means that the marriage is not only terminated, but treated as if it never took place.
Q: What are these certain circumstances?
A: The circumstances under which a marriage is annulled are called "grounds." There are six grounds for an annulment. You may qualify for an annulment if, at the time of the marriage:
1) You were under the age required for marriage (males must be 18 and females must be 16), and you did not thereafter live with your spouse in a husband-wife relationship. This annulment action must be brought within two years after you attain the legal age for marriage.
2) Either you or your husband/wife was already legally married and the spouse from the other marriage is still alive.
3) Either you or your spouse had been declared incompetent, unless competency was later restored and you lived together afterward as husband and wife.
4) The marriage consent of either you or your spouse was obtained by fraud, unless, after learning all of the facts, you lived together as husband and wife. (For example, consent may be obtained by fraud when a woman falsely tells her "significant other" that she is pregnant and that he is the father. Or, consent may be obtained by fraud when a spouse seriously misrepresents his/her identity or gender.) An annulment action based on fraud must be filed within two years after discovery of the facts that constitute fraud.
5) The consent of either you or your spouse was obtained by force (such as in a so-called "shotgun wedding"), unless afterward you lived together as husband and wife. This annulment action must be filed within two years of the date of the marriage.
6) Your marriage was never consummated. This means that you and your spouse failed to have physical relations at any time following the marriage ceremony. Such an annulment action also must be filed within two years of the date of the marriage.
This "Law You Can Use" consumer legal information column was provided by the Ohio State Bar Association. It was originally prepared by Robert C. Wentz, a Cleveland attorney, and updated by family law attorney Stanley Morganstern.