The Basics of Annulment in Louisiana

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

This article explains that basics of annulment in Louisiana (also called a "null marriage"), including when and how a marriage may be nullified and the effects of a null marriage.

You should check with the district 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 a Null Marriage

A null marriage is different from a divorce: a divorce ends a marriage; a null marriage means the marriage should never have been valid. If there is a reason your marriage should not have been valid, you may be eligible to have your marriage annulled. In Louisiana, there are two types of null marriages. An "absolutely null marriage" is one that is null from the date of marriage. A "relatively null marriage" is valid until a judge declares it null.

Grounds For an a Null Marriage

You must have a legal "ground" (reason) for your marriage to be declared null. The grounds for a null marriage in Louisiana include the following:

  • bigamy - one spouse was already married
  • incest - the spouses are related as first cousins or closer
  • coercion, fraud or duress - one spouse was coerced into the marriage
  • minority - one spouse was underage at the time of the marriage
  • one spouse is mentally retarded
  • one spouse was intoxicated during the marriage
  • one spouse was not present for the marriage ceremony, and
  • the spouses did not have a proper marriage ceremony.

Absolutely null marriages include marriages where one spouse is already married, the spouses have no ceremony, one spouse is already married, or the spouses are related as first cousins or closer.

Relatively null marriages include those where one party did not consent or was unable to consent to the marriage: one spouse is underage, is mentally retarded, was intoxicated, was not present for the marriage, or was coerced into the marriage. If spouses have a relatively null marriage, it can become a valid marriage if the spouse who did not consent to the marriage later gives their consent.

How Do I Get My Marriage Annulled?

In Louisiana, you need to file a “Petition to Annul Marriage” in the district court of the parish where either you or your spouse live. Contact the clerk at the district court for your parish to see if they have a sample petition to annul marriage that you can use. A link showing maps and contact information for all Louisiana district courts is provided in the "Resources" section below.

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

Your petition for annulment has to include certain information. Your petition should list both spouses’ names, the city and state where you were married, and the legal grounds that make your marriage eligible to be declared null. If you want the court to award you alimony, child support, or a division of the property you and your spouse have, you should state that in the petition as well.

After you file your petition with the district court, you will need to "serve" your spouse with a copy of the petition (make sure someone delivers the paperwork to your spouse). Ask your district court clerk for the different options to serve your spouse. There are ways to complete service on your spouse even if you can’t find them or they live out of state.

You will have a hearing before a judge who must decide if you have proven that your marriage should be annulled. If the judge agrees, the judge will sign a judgment declaring your marriage null. The judgment will also say how much should be paid in alimony and child support, and how the spouses’ property will be divided.

Effect of a Null Marriage

When the court declares your marriage null, it means you and your spouse were never legally married.

In Louisiana, the spouse who didn’t know the marriage should have been null can still have the benefits of a valid marriage, meaning the innocent spouse can still ask for alimony and a share of the spouses’ property. Children of a null marriage are still considered legitimate, meaning they can still inherit from both parents and both parents still have to financially support the children.

Resources

For the full text of the law on null marriages in Louisiana, see the  Louisiana Civil Code, Articles 86-97.

Click here  for Contact information for all the Louisiana District Courts.

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