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 voidable marriages, while my previous article focused on void marriages.
23 Pa.C.S. § 3305(a) provides the conditions can make a marriage voidable. A voidable marriage is one that is flawed, but whether the marriage is voided is discretionary. In other words, if a party seeks annulment of one of these marriages then the marriage is voided, but otherwise, the marriage remains valid and enforceable. Please note, however, that several of the conditions contain explicit time limits for filing for an annulment.
If one of the following conditions exist and an action for annulment is filed with the court, then the marriage is to be voided:
- Where either party to the marriage was under the age of 16 years old, UNLESS the marriage was authorized by the court.
- Where either party to the marriage was 16 or 17 years old and lacked the consent of his or her parent or guardian or the court, AND the marriage was not ratified upon reaching the age of 18 years old, AND an action for annulment is filed with the court within 60 days of the marriage ceremony.
- Where either party to the marriage was under the influence of alcohol or drugs AND an action for annulment is filed with the court within 60 days of the marriage ceremony.
- Where either party to the marriage was at the time of the marriage and remains to be naturally and incurably impotent, UNLESS the condition was known to the other party.
- Where one party was induced to enter into the marriage by fraud, duress, coercion or force attributable to the other party, UNLESS there has been voluntary cohabitation after the knowledge of the fraud or release from the effects of the fraud, duress coercion, or force.
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.