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How to Get an Annulment

Getting an annulment means having your marriage legally declared retroactively invalid – meaning you were never married to begin with. Here's how to erase that chapter from your life.


  • Step 1: Check your state law For a civil annulment, research your state's family law by visiting your state's web site or calling a municipal or county court office. Rules vary across the country.
  • TIP: A religious annulment is a different process and won't be recognized by the state.
  • Step 2: Have acceptable grounds Prove that there was a defect in the marriage contract: if one party was already married, concealing something, under the influence of drugs at the time of the ceremony, underage or not mentally competent, these are all grounds for annulment.
  • Step 3: Check the time limit Make sure you are within the time limit allowed to file for an annulment – usually two years or less. These periods vary depending on the type of annulment being requested and the state in which the petition is filed.
  • Step 4: Prepare to file Make an appointment with a family law attorney and, if necessary, hire them to help you navigate the process.
  • Step 5: Have the wronged party file Have the wronged party file. The person responsible for the deception generally is not allowed to request the annulment.
  • TIP: The person who files for an annulment still may be entitled to spousal and child support.
  • Step 6: Gather proof Gather as much proof of the marriage-contract defect as possible. It helps if you have evidence and witnesses.
  • FACT: In the 1530s, King Henry VIII broke away from the Catholic Church and formed the Church of England, partly because the Pope wouldn't grant him an annulment.

You Will Need

  • Grounds for annulment
  • An attorney
  • Proof of those grounds

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