Can I Have My Marriage Annulled in Pennsylvania? Part 1: Void Marriages

By Matthew T. Hovey, Esquire

Clients faced with a divorce often want to know: can I have my marriage annulled?  Emotionally and psychologically, an annulment may be preferable.  Likewise, for religious reasons, they may prefer a legal annulment.  Unfortunately, in Pennsylvania, it is extremely difficult to qualify for an annulment.  In our state, there are two classes of annulment: void marriages and voidable marriages.  This article will focus on void marriages, while my next article will focus on voidable marriages.

23 Pa.C.S. § 3304(a) provides the conditions can make a marriage void.  A void marriage is inherently flawed and invalid, as long as the condition exists.  If, however, the condition is removed and the parties cohabitate (cohabitation is different from living together; a couple may reside together but cease cohabitating), then the marriage may be validated based on the actions of the parties.

If one of the following conditions exist and an action for annulment is filed with the court, then the marriage is to be voided:

  1. Where either spouse at the time of the marriage already had an existing, valid marriage (unless that party obtained a decree of presumed death of the former spouse).
  2. Where the parties are related within the degrees of consanguinity prohibited by 23 Pa.C.S. § 1304.
  3. Where either party to the marriage was incapable of consenting due to insanity or serious mental disorder or otherwise lacked capacity to consent or did not not intend to consent to the marriage.
  4. Where either party to a purported common-law marriage was less than 18 years old.

If you, a family member, or friend are considering a divorce or annulment and would like to further discuss this topic, please call our office for a free initial consultation.

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