The Basics of Annulment in Kentucky

Wondering if you can get an annulment? Learn about the grounds for an annulment and how to get one in Kentucky.

If you want to know if your marriage is eligible for an annulment in the state of Kentucky, this article explains what an annulment is, when a marriage may be annulled, and the effects of an annulment.

Check with the circuit court of the county where you or your spouse live to see if they have requirements beyond the steps listed below. If you have additional questions about whether your marriage can be annulled, contact a local family law attorney for advice.

Overview of an Annulment

An annulment is different from a divorce: a divorce ends a marriage; an annulment means no valid marriage ever existed. If your marriage was legally invalid from the start, you may be eligible to have your marriage annulled.

Grounds For an Annulment

You must have a legal "ground" (reason) for your marriage to be annulled in Kentucky. Generally, your marriage may be annulled if any of the following circumstances was present at the time of the marriage:

  • one spouse was unable to consent to the marriage
  • one spouse was forced into the marriage
  • one spouse defrauded the other spouse about something essential to the marriage
  • one spouse was impotent (incapable of sexual intercourse)
  • the couple is more closely related than second cousin (incest)
  • one spouse was already married at the time of the second marriage (bigamy), or
  • one spouse was underage at the time of the marriage (under 18).

Courts may also grant annulments for any other reason that a judge believes justifies setting aside the marriage

Some grounds for annulment have additional conditions:

Consent

A spouse is unable to consent to marriage if they are unable to understand what the marriage means. The spouse must have been unable to consent at the time of the marriage. Mental disability can be a reason that a spouse can’t consent to the marriage, but the disability must be severe enough that the person did not understand what marriage means. A person who is intoxicated may also be unable to consent to a marriage. The court won’t grant an annulment unless there is very convincing evidence that a spouse couldn’t consent to the marriage.

Fraud

Fraud must be significant to be a ground to annul a marriage, and it must be directly related to the marriage itself. For example, in Kentucky, courts have annulled marriages based on a wife lying about being pregnant to convince her husband to marry. On the other hand, courts have refused to annul a marriage when a wife did not tell her husband that she had an illegitimate child.

Underage Spouse

If one party is under 18 when he or she is married, but continues to live with the other spouse after reaching 18, the marriage can no longer be annulled.

Statute of Limitations

Kentucky has a special "statute of limitations" (deadline) that applies to annulments. If you believe your divorce should be annulled because of force, duress or fraud, you have to file for an annulment within 90 days of finding out about the reason for the annulment. If the marriage is being annulled because of incest, bigamy or mental disability, you have to file for annulment within a year of discovering the reason for the annulment.

How Do I Get an Annulment?

In Kentucky, you will need to file a “Petition for Annulment of Marriage” (legal paperwork asking the court for an order of annulment) in the circuit court for the county where either you or your spouse live. You need to have lived in your county for at least 60 days before filing for an annulment. Contact the clerk at the circuit court for your county to see if they have a sample petition for annulment that you can use. A link showing maps and contact information for all Kentucky district courts is below.

The spouse filing for annulment is called the “petitioner” in the petition, and the other spouse is the “respondent.”

Your petition for annulment must include certain information, such as both spouses’ names, addresses, dates of birth, occupation and how long each spouse has lived in Kentucky. You need to provide the date of the marriage, and whether any children were born from the marriage. You also need to state the legal ground supporting the annulment.

After you file your petition with the circuit court, you will need to "serve" your spouse with a copy of the petition. "Service" means making sure your spouse gets notice of the annulment proceeding, which is typically done by having someone hand deliver a copy of annulment paperwork (including the petition) to your spouse. If you can’t find your spouse or he or she has moved out of state, ask your circuit court clerk about alternative options for service.

You will have a hearing before a judge who must decide if you have proven that your marriage should be annulled. If the judge is convinced, the judge will sign an order granting an annulment of your marriage. The judge can also sign an order granting your annulment if your spouse doesn’t contest (or joins in) your request.

Effect of an Annulment

When an annulment is granted, it means you and your spouse were never legally married. After an order of annulment, both spouses can say that there was never a marriage between them.

In Kentucky, where the statute of limitations only makes annulment possible for a very short time, there is no right to alimony or property division after an annulment.

A marriage can still be annulled even if the couple had children during the marriage. In Kentucky, the children of an annulled marriage are always considered legitimate, meaning both parents have the duty to financially support the children. A child born within 10 months of an annulled marriage is also considered legitimate.

Resources

For the full text of the law on annulment in Kentucky, see the Kentucky Revised Statutes, Title XXXV, Chapters 402-403  http://www.lrc.ky.gov/krs/titles.htm

Contact information for all the Kentucky Circuit Courts is here:http://courts.ky.gov/courts/clerks/Pages/default.aspx

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