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Divorce is a difficult choice to make, but sometimes a marriage was not the right choice beyond emotional and financial reasons. Occasionally, a marriage should be declared to have never existed.

The process of declaring a marriage void is commonly known as annulment, with a legal parallel in Illinois.

What is annulment?

  • Similar to divorce, annulment makes a legal determination about a marriage. Unlike a divorce, which ends an existing and valid marriage, an annulment determines that a marriage was never valid in the first place.

Is an annulment possible in Illinois?

  • Religious annulments may be granted, but Illinois has no official court action to annul a civil marriage. Instead, a judge may issue a “judgment of invalidity,” although it is rare.

What are the grounds for invalidity in Illinois?

  • A spouse may have lacked the cognitive capability to agree to a marriage, due to mental incapacity or coercion. An underage spouse or one who marries an already married person may also be in an invalid marriage.

What are the limits on invalidity in Illinois?

  • Invalidity due to mental incapacity or fraud must be filed within 90 days of a petitioner learning what happened. If age is the issue, the filing must be before the spouse reached legal age.

How can a lawyer help with a judgment of invalidity?

  • Custodial or child support issues could have financial consequences for both individuals after an invalidity judgment. The assets and property gained during a marriage may also be called into legal question.

Source: DivorceNet, “Overview of Annulment and Void Marriages,” accessed Oct. 12, 2017