Divorce is not the only way to dissolve a marriage in Virginia. For some couples, an annulment might be an option — though only in limited circumstances.
The two are subtly different. A divorce legally ends a marriage. An annulment makes it as if, legally speaking, the marriage never occurred. Generally, there is no division of assets or other proceedings that are necessary for divorce. But unlike a divorce, Virginia law requires you to prove that your marriage is illegal or based in fraud in some way.
Accepted grounds for annulment include:
- Bigamy — one of the spouses was already married to somebody else when the marriage began
- The spouses are closely enough related for the marriage to be incestuous
- One of the spouses was under 18 when they got married and were thus too young to consent
- One of the spouses knew they were unable to conceive children and lied to the other spouse about it
- One of the spouses was impotent
- One spouse had a felony or prostitution record and the other spouse was unaware
- One spouse only got married due to fraud or duress
Also, you have just two years from the date of the marriage to file for an annulment.
Most people in troubled marriages will struggle to qualify for an annulment. But divorce is available to all married couples, who do not have to prove fault to be granted one. Divorce is a complex process, but with experienced legal assistance, you can move forward with a fair share of the marital assets, a reasonable child custody arrangement, and more.