Considering annulment and divorce in Illinois

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Ending a marriage is often a difficult and emotionally draining process. This is true if two people entered into the agreement with full hearts and clear minds. But if one or both parties were not aware or able to make the decision to marry, ending the marriage may be more complicated.

Illinois law allows for a marriage to be declared invalid, or annulled. This is different than applying for a divorce, which ends a valid marriage. Annulment declares that the state and other entities should treat the marriage as if it was not valid in the first place.

There are four reasons for a marriage to be annulled in the Land of Lincoln. If a spouse could not consent to marriage due to mental illness or the influence of drugs or alcohol, the marriage may be invalid. The same is true if the marriage involved force or fraud.

If a spouse was under the age of 18, he or she cannot be legally married without the permission of a parent, guardian or court. A rarely used Illinois law may annul a marriage if one spouse cannot have sexual intercourse and did not inform the other spouse before the marriage.

Illinois also considers marriages to be illegal if they are between blood relatives, adoptive relatives or one or two people married to another person. These strict limitations and time limits -- between three months and a year in many cases -- make annulment a generally more difficult process than divorce.

The greatest advantage of annulment over divorce is to avoid the splitting of property or the payment of court-ordered alimony. Discuss these options and your eligibility for them with an attorney, who may guide the process of either annulment or divorce.

Source: Illinois Legal Aid Online, "Getting my marriage annulled," accessed Nov. 16, 2017

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