Articles Tagged with annulment

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

Some people come to our office hoping that they can annul their marriage. People may want to annul marriage because they regret their decision to marry their new spouse, or because they feel like their marriage was a sham. They want their marriage (and their spouse) to go away and to be able to try and put their life back together. In Washington the process is not called an annulment it is called a determination of validity, but the effect is similar, and unfortunately for these people, is only available in  limited circumstances.

While it is not called an annulment in Washington State, it has the same desired effect. A decree of invalidity makes it as if the marriage never happened. RCW 26.09.040 is the law governing the procedure and requirements necessary for someone to have their marriage declared invalid. The statute requires that both parties to the marriage be living and that at least one of the parties is a resident of the State of Washington (or a member of the armed services stationed in this state).

A declaration of invalidity may be obtained if the court finds that at the time of the marriage one of the following circumstances was present:

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