Occasionally, a potential client comes to me to dissolve a marriage and wants to know if annulment is an option. In general, annulments are difficult to obtain and are available only in very limited circumstances. The Texas Family Code provides seven grounds for annulment.
(1) A marriage can be annulled if one party to the marriage was between the ages of 16-18 and did not have parental consent or court-ordered permission to marry. (A marriage of a person under 16 is void unless that person obtained court-ordered permission to marry.)
(2) A marriage can be annulled if the petitioner was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, lacked the ability to consent as a result, and has not voluntarily cohabited with the other party since the effects of the drugs / alcohol wore off.
(3) The court can annul a marriage if either party was permanently impotent at the time of the marriage, the other party did not know about the impotency, and that party has not voluntarily cohabited with the impotent spouse since learning of the impotency.
(4) A marriage can be annulled if one souse used fraud, duress or force to get the other person to enter into the marriage, and that spouse has not voluntarily cohabited since learning of the fraud or being released from the duress or force.
(5) The court can annul a marriage based on one spouse’s mental incapacity at the time of the marriage.
(6) A marriage can be annulled if one spouse divorced a third party within 30 days of the marriage, the petitioner did not know of the divorce, the parties have not cohabited since the discovery of the divorce, and suit is brought before the first anniversary of the marriage.
(7) The court can annul a marriage that occurred less than 72 hours after the issuance of the marriage license.
In most cases, a divorce is the appropriate means of dissolving a marriage.