It is not unusual for prospective clients to inquire about annulments when they are contemplating divorce. There are some common misconceptions about them, however. Most people think that the length of marriage is relevant; very short marriages, they think, qualify for this relief. That is incorrect. It is the validity of the contract of marriage that is relevant, not the length of the marriage. And many don’t understand there is a difference between a civil annulment and a religious annulment. These are two very different proceedings with different rules, standards of review, processes and results.
In order to obtain a civil annulment, one has to prove that the marriage was void or voidable at the time it took place. There are several reasons a marriage could be void or voidable.
Marriage based on fraud – when first heard – is the one claim most people think they can prove. However, regret over a new spouse’s behavior, hygiene, political views, sordid past, parents, health issues and lack of money will rarely carry their burden of proof. In marriage, just like any other contract, the buyer must beware. The fraud must be significant and usually must involve a misrepresentation that goes to the essence of the marital relationship. Most acts or omissions one would think would satisfy an annulment based on fraud, don’t.
Some other factors on which annulments are based are easier to prove if they truly exist: insufficient age of the parties, blood relations of the parties, the fact that one of the parties was already married at the time of the current marriage, incompetence or coercion of the spouse to enter into the marriage contract, or failure to follow the licensing procedure.
So no, what happens in Vegas doesn’t necessarily stay in Vegas.