Annulment of Marriage in Alabama

I get about a question a week from people who have realized soon after their wedding vows that this was all a big mistake. Their usual question is whether they can get an annulment instead of a divorce, because they’ve been married such a short time.

Sorry. It just doesn’t work that way. A marriage must have several elements to be a valid marriage. Both parties must be age 14 or greater. The parties must be of sound mind and have the ability to agree to the contract of marriage. The parties may not be first cousins or of closer relationship.

Annulment is available if one of these essential elements is missing. The most frequent successful reason for annulment is that one of the spouses was still married to someone else at the time the couple said “I do.”

Annulment is not available on these grounds:

  • We haven’t been married very long.
  • My spouse deceived me about his or her finances, or virginity, or family, or criminal record.
  • We never consummated our marriage. We never had sex together.
  • We never actually lived together.
  • When grounds for an annulment do exist, the cost for uncontested annulment tends to be a tad higher than for uncontested divorce. For example, my charge for an uncontested annulment is $100 more than for an uncontested divorce. It happens a little faster than uncontested divorce (about two weeks after filing vs. six weeks after filing for a divorce). Annulment happens faster because there’s no 30 day waiting period required.

    188 comments to Annulment of Marriage in Alabama

    • Ann

      my mother married in 2000 and recently found paperwork indicating that her husband was married at the time they got married. He has since run off. What are the laws surrounding an annulment in her situation?

    • Your mother has the right but not the duty to seek an annulment of her marriage.

    • Jerry Parker

      I have a family member who married a year ago because of pregnancy of his girlfriend. It has come to light that the baby is not his. At the time of the pregnancy, he inquired as to whether she had been with anyone else. She answered with a question, “What… do you think I’m a whore?” He didn’t pursue it further, and married her. He has been devastated by the DNA-documented developments and desires an annulment based on fraud. She claims she never told him she was not with someone else, therefore she doesn’t think it was fraud. Can she prevent his annulment by this obvious deceit and fraud by evasion/omission?

    • Jennifer

      What is the annulment process like? Is it just basically paperwork or are there court appearances as well.

    • The case Jerry describes in #53 isn’t an annulment case. It could be a divorce case if Dad wants to file.

      In answer to Jennifer’s question, annulment is a lot like divorce in the sense that it can be quite simple and straightforward or complex and costly. It all depends on (a) whether the parties are cooperative and (b) whether the requisite facts justifying annulment (rarer than most people realize) are present.

    • Jerry Parker

      Thanks for the comment. He states she did say specifically, on more than one occasion that it was his baby, and that she had not been with anyone else….does that make any difference regarding intentional fraud for annulment?

    • Jerry Parker

      Thanks for the comment. Does specific denial regarding possible presumptives for paternity raise to the level of fraud for annulment?

    • Jerry Parker

      Sorry…reworded because of word press…didn’t know it went thru twice!

    • Shana

      Can you explain what the term having no intent to have a marriage in the normal sense of the word means? I’ve been married for 6 months now and have only seen my husband about a month or 2 out of this whole time. We are both 23 years old and I have a 1 year old from a previous relationship. After we got into a recent argument he blunetly told me that he is not giving up his computer vidoe game to spend time with me. This video game is the reason why we don’t spend time together and the reason that we haven’t been able to find our own place together. He wasn’t like this when we met but started this behavior after we got married. He calls in sick for work to play this game and will soon get fired dueto calling in sick so many times now. I have found messages to his friends stating that he cares more about his game than me and the real world. Is this grounds for an annulment due to the fact that he never intentedon having a normal marriage?

    • No, Shana, I don’t think so. I’m sorry.

    • Maria

      Please seek the couucil of your parish priest. The Tribunal of your Diocese is the authority in anulments. A layperson has no authority in these matters. They may advise as a canon lawyer..or other advisor..but the Final decision is with the Tribunal. For anyone to assume to make statements in the negative or the positive, is outside the teaching authority of Diocese and local Bishop. I will get word out about..this site.

    • I approved Comment #61 because (a) I never like to suppress legitimate criticism of my work and (b) because it gives me the opportunity to clear up any confusion that might exist. This note is not about religious annulment; it’s about LEGAL annulment, an entirely different process from the one Maria is fretting about. The legal annulment we’re discussing has nothing to do with your parish priest, and, although I do lack authority over it, I do indeed know something about it.

    • alison

      Can i get an annulment and was my marriage even legal?
      * the probate judges secretary married us and then signed the judges signature. acccording to the code of alabama, she is not authorized to solemnize marriages
      *I was heavily medicated for for severe depression, self-harm, and anxiety
      *didnt know before that he wants kids, i do not. Also most likely that i cannot and i refuse to, as it may kill me.
      * will be married 6 months this week
      *we married so that i would have health insurance

    • Alison, my guess is that you had a voidable marriage, but by calling each other husband and wife, you cemented it via common law and made it valid so that you cannot now annul it. Fortunately for you, however, I’m not the one who will decide; the judge will. Could be the judge will see it differently.

    • Jean

      Id there a limit on the number of times you can be married in the state of Alabama?

    • To my knowledge, no.

    • Sydney Lee

      I like many other people that visit your site, am in a very confusing and difficult situation…..i have been married to my husband for almost a month and I am now realizing that he has continuously lied to me about tons of things…..i was under the impression he had one child then i find out he has 3 he says he had a trisectomy(is that even real??) then had it reversed so that he could get me pregnant without my knowledge we have no kids together …i still dont know if he can have anymore kids or not…..i dont know if he really had the procedure or not…..he knew that i wanted more children when we met and he said he wanted more kids as well because the mothers of his previos children wont allow him to see the kids at all…. one child he has …the mother is always causing problems between us and she has no idea we are even together much less married she knows aho i am but thinks im just a random woman he sometimes sleeps with… he wont tell her….he is an alcoholic and is court ordered to take classes and such… he is constantly telling me things that i have never heard of before and saying things like ” i should have told you this before we were married…” but some of those things he has said are so crazy….and unbelieveable…..i dont know if he is telling the truth or not…….there is sooo much more going on here it would take me all day to go into real detail about this man………we live in alabama and were married in a different alabama county that we live in… so my question is this is annulment for me or should i file for divorce and do i need to go back to the county we were married in or can i file in the county i live in??? thanks….

    • I don’t think you have grounds for an annulment, but you certainly can file for divorce. To find out which county to file in, take a look at this note: http://divorceinfo.com/blog/?p=269.

    • Sydney Lee

      THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR ADVICE LEE…..

    • Sydney Lee

      I FOUND A RECIEPT IN HIS POCKET YESTERDAY FOR ONE CONDOM…..DOES THAT POSSIBLY CONSTITUTE GROUNDS FOR ANNULMENT?

    • Sofia

      Could you please give response on comment #9 and #10. I know him and his ex wife. He is very volatile person, and she suffered very much because his changes of mood. He is very well known in his town for being an instable and volatile person. He was very much mentally abusive with her. For instance, one time in a restaurant, he throwed a coca on her, and he said bad words at her in front of people just because she did not want to answer a question that he did about something that happened 6 years ago. He yelled and screamed at her many times. She wanted to work but he would not let her. He said that he did not bring her to USA to work for someone else. He wanted only for her to work at his company. He treated her like his possession. Now he says that if she does not want to be married anymore he will do the annulment to scare her and make her go back to her country. Also, she wanted to have a baby and he did not. He was insecure that she would go away. Many times he told her that she deserved another man better than him. She wanted an UNCONTESTED DIVORSE one year ago, but he did a complaint for annulment. He has money and way to pay. Now he has two lawyers in his representation. On the other hand, she has a job to pay for living expenses for her and her son, but not to pay lawyers. IS THERE ANY KIND OF CONCEQUENCES FOR HIM TO TRYING TO DO AN ANNULMENT? WHAT CAN HAPPEN IN THIS SITUATION?

    • To the poster of comment #70, no. I can’t imagine how this could constitute grounds for annulment.

      To the poster of comment #71, yes, I can see how a man who wants to avoid property settlement and spousal support would want to recast the divorce as an annulment, because it would allow him to argue that the marriage was never valid. I don’t yet know of anything in the facts described, however, that would constitute grounds for annulment as I understand them in Alabama.

    • DJ

      IF I MARRIED LESS THAN 1 MONTH AGO AND HE PROMISED TO ATTEND MY CHURCH WITH ME BUT NOW TELLS ME HE DOESN’T BELIEVE IN GOD AND WILL NEVER ATTEND CHURCH IS THIS GROUNDS FOR ANNULMENT?

    • Ali

      When my husband & I got married, he lied and said that he had not ever been married before because he did not have his divorce papers with him at the time. Is our marriage still legal & and binding or can this be grounds for an annulment?

    • Not unless he was still married to someone else when you and he married.

    • david

      We were married before my 60 day wait period was over from my divorce. Can we have an annulment?

    • denamarie

      Can you get an annulment without physically going before a judge. Can it be done with notarized signatures. I am writing a book and want what is said to be accurate.

    • Lost One

      When I was a young child (age 4)my uncle started molesting me. When I was 11 years old my mother left Alabama and moved to Montana. She left us living with my grandparents and the uncle that was molesting me. He was in his mid 20s. My family did everything they could to cover it up for about 10 years. At the age of 14 my family was scared that my uncle would be arrested.My family talked to an attorney who was a friend. He suggested that my uncle marry me and move out of town. I told my uncle that I couldn’t love him as a husband and he told me that if anything ever happened to him the stress would kill my grandparents. He then contacted my mother and told her that we needed to get married.Not concerned for me, my mother returned to Alabama and signed papers for us to get married.I was 15 by that time.At the time I had no idea that it was wrong to marry your uncle. I know that sounds crazy, but that’s how life was for us growing up.And it had been happening from the age of four so you assume that it’s ok.We moved out of town and I started a school in a place where my family had no ties to the community. The school knew I was married but it was the first time I had been told to hide the fact that he was my uncle. After a year of living in that sickning lifestyle I couldn’t take it anymore and went to see the same lawyer that had advised us to get married. He told me the only thing I could do is file for a divorce, and not to mention that my husband was my uncle or I would be arrested. So I filed and we divorced,and I went on with life, remarried and moved to California. Now 14 years later I am fighting my mother for custody of another child she had, who is 13 years old. She wants to use the fact that I married my uncle against me in court. I am scared of this because 1,my husband didn’t know all the facts because I was to embarrassed to tell him before we married. Now, I have told him everything and he is very supportive of me.2, our friends and family out here have no idea this ever happened and we are very involved in our community. My mother is threatening to tell every one we know about it if I don’t drop the case with my younger brother. 3, I’m still scared I could get in trouble for saying I do in the first place. I have children now and she is even threatening to go to there school and tell them about this.Everytime I fill out any paperwork it ask # of previous marrages and divorces. Do I have to claim this a a marrage even though he was my uncle? And is there any way that we could even though we divorced, I think I would feel better if it was classified as “annulment” rather than a divorce, could we do that?

    • Everything I can see indicates you had a legal (even though sick and clearly dysfunctional) marriage with your uncle. The one who could get in trouble for it, in addition to your uncle, is your mother, not you. Yes, this might be embarrassing to you, but I don’t know of any risk that you could be prosecuted for a decision you made as a minor, one expressly approved by your mother.

    • I was married on 3/19/04. Now my husband tells me his divorce from his ex-wife wasn’t signed until 2/23/04. There wasn’t 30 days between our marriage and his divorce. Was our marriage legal. We are now seperating, would I get a divorce or can I get it annuled?

    • If you’re asking whether you are eligible for annulment because your husband broke the law when he married you, the answer is no.

    • vanise

      I have been seperated from common-law husband for over 2 yrs. We have been married in the eyes of everyone that knows us and filed joint taxes fro all but the last 4 or 5 years. We have an almost 21 and 18 year old daughters who lived with me after he left. He paid nothing so far as spousal or child support and he had drained all of our bank accounts. he won’t even send me the title or the current tags (he did the first 2 yrs.) on the 2004 mustang. We have no home and he also figured out a way to show that all of the money that we mde (train race horses) (my families business ) (he had never even owned or been to a horse race before me) Anyway….. We lived primarily in Okla and Tx. but due to our business, we have lived in several states for short periods of time. , Ca, Iowa, Ky. and I have now lived in Ohio 4 yrs. which is where he left us. How do I get a divorce and child support. He is convinced that because we weren’t legally married that he isn’t married anddoesn’t have to leave me anything or pay me or his daughters anything…. Is this true?

    • Bless your heart.

      This is going to require some careful and systematic research on your part. You need to plot out all the states where you and he lived together AFTER you began thinking of yourselves as married, and check the extent to which each of them recognizes common law marriage. Pick the earliest state, and then ask yourself what evidence you would present to a judge IN THAT STATE showing a present intent on both your parts to be married to each other.

      If you have such evidence, then you’re ready to contact a lawyer in that state, move to that state, and file for divorce in that state. It’s not going to be simple, easy, or cheap, so think it through carefully before spending any money or making the move I’ve described here.

    • lala

      i was married a little over a year with my now ex .the relationship was an abusive one and we both agreed to seperate.after i left and fioled for divorce we both found out i was still married to my first husband ..who i married at the age of 18 and havent been with sence the age of 21 ..i am now 28.so he went for an annulment of the marrige.i now have an uncontested hearing and would like to know what to expect should i get a lawyer or should i just save the money and go alone .we have nothing together and never had any children together or bills and bank accounts.so there is nothing really keeping us together .we just want the whole thing to end and move on with our life.so what should i expect at this hearing .please informe ..thank you

    • I guess the concern I would have is that, by marrying hubby #2 while married to hubby #1, did you commit the crime of bigamy? You can read the statute (§ 13A-13-1) at most any good library and decide for yourself how severe the risk is.

    • embarrassed

      Long story made short – in 2003 I began seeing a man who I now believe has antisocial personality disorder. It was a stressful, abusive relationship and I began using drugs (marijuana and oxycodone) to escape. When he needed a place to live in 2005, we decided to marry. At the time I did not consider myself to have a drug problem, but I can see now that I did and do. In fact, both of us had been taking both drugs immediately prior to going to the courthouse to be married. I am divorced now and fighting my addictions. But I wonder if I had grounds for annulment since both he and I had drug addictions and were on those drugs at the time we married. Also, is it possible to have a divorce changed to an annulment at a later time?

    • I wonder if I had grounds for annulment.
      I WOULDN’T WANT TO ARGUE IT, BUT YOU MIGHT GET A JUDGE TO BUY IT. JUST KNOW THAT THE COST OF ARGUING IT WOULD BE SIGNIFICANT.

      Is it possible to have a divorce changed to an annulment at a later time?
      NO. SORRY.

    • doris berry

      I MARRIED IN 95 REALIZE A MONTH AFTERWARDS , MY MILITARY MAN WAS NOT LEGALLY DIVORCE HAD FILED BUT IT WAS NOT FINALIZE WE SEPARATED RIGHT AFTER THIS WE MARRIED IN THE THE STATE OF TENN WHICH I STILL RESIDE HE HAS MOVE TO FLORIDA MY QUESTION IS AM I LEGALLY MARRIED AND IS IT TOO LATE TO GET A ANNULMENT. THANKS FOR YOUR ADVICE,

    • Yes, you are legally married; and no, it may not be too late for you to get an annulment. Talk to a TN lawyer, who should be able to tell you for sure.

    • Annonomous

      Lee,

      I was wondering how much you charge for a divorce? My now husband and I have 2 kids together, and He used you once before to get a divorce from his previous wife. I need to do this the cheapest way possible since I have been a stay-at-home mom for the past five years. Sad to say but I have lived with my parents’ since we got married and he has lived somewhere else with the promise of finding a new place to live…which has never happened. I am a student with two kids and no money. Is there any way that he would be made to pay for this? Or would it be in the case of he would have to file to pay?

    • Here’s the page on what I charge: http://www.divorceinfo.com/alflatrates.htm. Thanks for asking.

      You may be able to force your spouse to pay for the divorce over his or her objections, but you wouldn’t want to use me to do it, because my work is focused on couples who are able to be reasonably cooperative.

    • Annonomous

      Thanks Lee,

      I don’t know if he will contest or not, but I just found out yesterday that he has cheated on me twice and using drugs again. So I do believe this is a legite reason for divorece. But once more Thanks.

    • Kelly aka made a stupid mistake

      I married on March 4,2008. My husband and I had only dated 12 days prior to this. The day we got married he was drunk and I was still thinking about the wild and crazy sex we had the night before. He moved in with me the day we got married. Two days later I caught him smoking methamphetamines and demanded him to leave. We have not been together since then. Is an annulment possiable? Would it make more sense to just get a divorce since its cheaper and I really don’t care how long it takes because im in no rush to make the same mistake again?

      P.S. It’s nice to know, from reading other posted question, i’m not the only idiot alive!!!

    • Is an annulment possiable? Unlikely.

      Would it make more sense to just get a divorce since its cheaper and I really don’t care how long it takes because im in no rush to make the same mistake again? Yes.

    • Mary Margaret

      I was married on July 17, 2008 in Birmingham, AL. The guy I married is a Turkish citizen and an American citizen. He took a job at a large Pharma in April prior to out marriage. In order for us to qualify for the relocation allocation we needed to get married, so he insisted. We dated for over a year before getting engaged. I have two children from a previous marriage that was not valid because his divorce was never final in California. I returned to Alabama and received full custody of my children with no claim to our joint assets in California. To keep it short I lost everything, but my kids. I rebuilt it again and became a successful single parent. The father of my children moved to China and never paid child support, so it made me hesitant to do it again. My current husband has property over seas, which I knew about. I told him that I would not sign a pre-nup because I felt that we either went into the marriage willing to share our accomplishments or we could stay single. He aggreed to this. He had over 250k cash in his bank account in the US. On July 28th he transferred $220k of that money to his mother in Turkey. Our plan was for me to sell my house in Alabama and we rented a place in PA for six months until we could buy a house in PA. We wanted to give ourselves time to find out where we wanted to live and school districts. Now he has transferred the money and I found out about it. He never had any intention of buying a house with me. He just said that so I would marry him and move up there. It has been less than a month since we married and I feel very misled. Especially having two children from a similar situation. Do you think this warrants and annullment? I do not want to gain anything financially, but I do not want to be 1/2 married either. He suggested that I just forget about everything he had before me and start out as a newly married couple from scratch. I told him that I did that in my twenties and am not about to do it again. I don’t have a job there and my salary was going to cut to 1/3 of what I made in Al last year.

    • Wayne

      I got married while I was in the military for the purpose of receiving spousal benefits. I never lived with the “spouse,” never consummated the relationship and have no way of contacting the individual. Nor did I ever receive any of the military spousal benefits. May there be grounds for an annulment in AL?

    • GAbriel

      My wife of two months is wanting an analament on grounds that we have only been together less than 6 months. She is trying to weasel her way out of this marriage now that she has sold her ex husbands land. When we married I agreed to pay the bills now she has money and wants to get rid of me. We signed no prenuptual aggreement so my queston is can she get away with leaving me stuck with all these bills and divorce me without a reason? She thinks I dont know she sold the land cuz it was supposatly being liened on by the bank but it was paid off… She keeps logs of our arguments aboiut her business that I have made alot of clients for her. Is this true can she leave me after Ive gotten her all these clients and bussiness let me know

    • Pineapple

      I want to get married on Monday and divorced on Friday, can I do this? Regardless why… Is there a way to do this?

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