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Divorce Vs. Annulment Under Texas Family Law


There are generally two methods of ending a marriage in Texas. Texas family law defines a divorce as a legal ending to a valid marriage. An annulment actually invalidates the marriage as if it never existed. To get an annulment in Texas, the petitioner must prove to the court certain facts about the marriage that must meet very specific statutory criteria.

Under Texas law, either party may claim "no fault" in a divorce. This means they don't have to provide any grounds for the divorce. In an annulment, either one or both parties must present evidence of meeting statutory requirements to the court.


Qualifying For An Annulment

In Texas, there are very specific requirements for granting an annulment.  Each of these categories may qualify for an annulment if all criteria are met:

Underage

If a party is over age 16 but under age 18 and got married without the consent of their parents or the court, they may qualify for an annulment under Texas Family Code 6.102. Under Texas Family Code 6.205, the court will void any marriage if a partner is under age 16 unless there is a court order.


Intoxication

If a marriage partner was under the influence of alcohol or drugs and could not consent to marriage, they may qualify for an annulment. HOwever, under Texas Family Code 6.105, the couple must prove to the court that they did not cohabitate after the ceremony. If the couple attempted to make the marriage work by moving in together, they will not have met the statutory requirements for an annulment.

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Impotency

If one of the partners was impotent at the time of the marriage and the other partner did not know of this condition and once they were made aware of the condition no longer cohabitated with their partner, the court may grant an annulment. This is covered under Texas Family Code 6.106.


Duress, Fraud or Force

If duress, fraud or force was used to make a petitioner enter a marriage, the court may grant an annulment. Under Texas Family Code 6.107, the petitioner must prove they did not cohabitate with the other party since getting away from the force or duress or becoming aware of the fraud.

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Mental Incapacity

There are different requirements for an annulment due to mental incapacity under Texas Family Law. If the person with the incapacity is the petitioner or their representative, they must prove to the court that at the time of the marriage, they did not have the mental capacity to consent to marriage or because of mental defect or disease, were not mentally able to understand the reason for the ceremony. Additionally, after the ceremony, if they ever possessed an ability to understand or recognize the marriage relationship, they must not have cohabitated voluntarily with the other marriage partner.


If the person bringing the annulment petition is not the party without the mental incapacity, they must prove to the court that they were unaware of the other party's mental defect or disease at the time of the marriage. They must also prove they never cohabitated with the other party after becoming aware of their mental defect or disease. These requirements are covered in Texas Family Code 6.108.

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Concealed Divorce

The court may grant an annulment if one of the parties of the marriage was divorced less than 30 days from someone else and the other party was not aware of this fact at the time of the marriage. Under Texas Family Code 6.109, the court also requires that the party asking for the annulment prove that once they learned of the concealed divorce, they did not voluntarily cohabitate with the other party.

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Marriage No More Than 72 Hours After Obtaining License

If a couple gets married within 72 hours after obtaining a marriage license, the court may grant an annulment if it is requested within 30 days of the ceremony. According to Texas Family Code 6.110, this time limit is an important distinction between getting a divorce or an annulment.


Consanguinity

Under Texas Family Code 6.201, the court will automatically declare a marriage void if the partners are too closely related by blood. The criteria is usually cousins or closer.


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Preexisting Marriage

The court will automatically void a marriage if it is proven that one or both of the parties were married to a third party at the time of the marriage. Under Texas Family Code 6.202, if the earlier marriage is dissolved and the parties of the second marriage cohabitate and tell others they are married, that marriage may become valid.

An annulment under Texas Family law may be granted but very specific criteria must first be met. The above information outlines the general grounds for an annulment in Texas, but it is best to discuss the situation with a qualified family law attorney. If you or someone you know needs more information on a divorce vs. an annulment in Texas, an experienced family law attorney can evaluate the situation and provide advice on the best option.

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