What is an annulment and why would someone want one?
Like a divorce, an annulment is a court procedure that dissolves, or ends, a marriage. An annulment is different from a divorce in that an annulment treats the marriage like it never happened. Some people still think divorce carries a stigma, so they would rather have their marriage annulled than get a divorce. This type of civil annulment should not be confused with a religious annulment, which can only be granted by a church or clergy. A religious annulment will have no effect on your marital status, as far as the state is concerned.
What are the grounds for an annulment in New Hampshire?
There are limited reasons, or grounds, for getting an annulment in New Hampshire. You can get an annulment in New Hampshire for any of the following grounds:
- lack of consent of a parent or guardian if consent was required
- fraud, or lies, by you or your spouse that induced the other to marry
- you or your spouse only married because of severe threats
- the marriage was illegal because you and your spouse are too closely related, or
- you or your spouse was married to someone else at the time of your marriage.
How do I get an annulment in New Hampshire?
The first step in having your marriage annulled is to file a “Petition to Annul Marriage.” The petition is available on the New Hampshire State Court website. In your petition, you will have to provide information about yourself, your spouse, your children, your marriage, and why you’re seeking an annulment. You will have to have your spouse “served” with the petition. This means that an adult, other than you, has to hand-deliver the petition to your spouse.
If your spouse agrees to the annulment, the judge will enter a decree of annulment without a hearing. If your spouse does not agree to the annulment of your marriage, the judge will hold a hearing. In a hearing, both you and your spouse will have to testify and present other evidence to the court so that the judge can determine whether an annulment is appropriate.
What is the effect of an annulment?
Once the judge issues an annulment, your marriage is immediately considered void, as if you were never married.
If you and your spouse had children together, your children are still considered “legitimate” after an annulment. This means that the father continues to be the father unless it’s proven that someone else is the father.
The full text of the law governing annulments in New Hampshire can be found at NH Rev. Stat. Ann. §458.