Annulment is a term in family law that many are familiar with. This is probably partially because of the dramatic circumstances that can lead to annulments (ex. Britney Spears in 2004). Most people understand the term to mean that there was something wrong at the time of marriage that makes the marriage invalid, and so the parties (or party) may annul the marriage and go back to life like the marriage never happened. While Washington State does not have a legal action called an “annulment,” it does have a process whereby a person can obtain a declaration of invalidity. The result of the declaration of invalidity is the same as the annulment process: the marriage is over without the need for a divorce.
Many people are excited about the idea of ending their marriage without the need for the divorce process (called the “dissolution process” in Washington), however only specific (and rare) circumstances satisfy the requirements for obtaining a declaration of invalidity. Petitioning the court for a declaration of invalidity is not a common occurrence, even for experienced family law attorneys. The court may grant a declaration of invalidity in the following circumstances: Continue reading