The Basics of Annulment in Texas

Can you get an annulment? Get an overview of the annulment process in Texas.

In Texas, marriages end through death, divorce or annulment. In Texas, annulment is also referred to as declaring a marriage "void." This article explains what an annulment is, the process of getting an annulment in Texas, and what the effects of an annulment are.

If you have other questions about annulment in Texas after reading this article, you should speak with a family law attorney in your area.

Overview of an Annulment

Annulment and divorce are different: a divorce ends a valid marriage, while an annulment ends a marriage that should not have been valid to begin with. If your marriage was invalid from the beginning, you may be eligible for an annulment of your marriage in the state of Texas.

Grounds For an Annulment

You need to be able to show one of several legal grounds to get an annulment in Texas. Your marriage may be eligible for annulment if you can show any of the following:

  • Incest – your and your spouse are related, closer than first cousins.
  • Bigamy – either you or your spouse is in another marriage that wasn't terminated before your own marriage.
  • Underage – one spouse was under the legal age to get married.
  • Intoxication – one spouse was too intoxicated during the ceremony to consent to marriage.
  • Impotence – one spouse is permanently unable to have sexual intercourse.
  • Fraud – one spouse lied about or hid something essential to the marriage.
  • Duress or Force – one spouse was coerced, threatened, or forced to get married.

Some of these grounds for annulment have other requirements:

If a spouse has another husband or wife at the time of marriage, the spouse can still have a valid marriage if the earlier marriage is dissolved and the spouses of the later marriage continue to live together. When this happens, the marriage can’t be annulled later.

An annulment has to be filed by one of the spouses, unless one spouse is underage. When a spouse is underage, a parent or guardian can file for the annulment on their behalf. The legal age to get married in Texas is 18, or 16 with a parent’s consent or court order. Once a spouse is 18, the spouse can’t file for an annulment based on being underage.

A Texas court won’t grant an annulment based on intoxication if the spouses lived together after the spouses were sober.

If a spouse wants an annulment because their husband or wife is unable to have sexual intercourse, the impotence has to be permanent. Also, the court won’t grant annulment if the spouse asking for annulment knew about the impotence at the time of marriage, or voluntarily lived with the impotent spouse since finding out.

A Texas court won’t grant annulment for fraud, duress or force if the spouses continued to live together after the fraud was discovered or the duress or force was no longer present. Only major fraud about something essential to the marriage will be enough for an annulment. For example, a Texas husband whose wife didn’t tell him about five of her eight previous marriages was granted an annulment. A spouse lying about being a virgin before the marriage, however, isn’t enough for an annulment in Texas.

How Do I Get an Annulment?

You can request an annulment by filling a document called “A Suit to Declare Void the Marriage of [Petitioner] and [Respondent].” If you are the spouse filing for annulment, you are the "petitioner" and your spouse is the "respondent."

File the lawsuit in the district court for the county where either you or your spouse lives. Either you or your spouse needs to have lived in Texas for at least six months and in the county where you file for at least 90 days. Check with the district court clerk’s office to see if they have a sample form you can use to file for annulment. A link to contact information for all the Texas district courts is below.

Your annulment paperwork needs to list the full names for you, your spouse, and your children. State which spouse has lived in the county for at least 90 days. List the date of your marriage and the date you and your spouse stopped living together. If you have children and need the judge to decide custody, visitation, and child support, you’ll need to state that in the suit as well. You should also state what property you and your spouse have and if you need to the court to divide it.

When you file your lawsuit, get an extra copy back to serve on your spouse. Your district court clerk can explain your options for serving your spouse, including options when you can’t find your spouse or your spouse lives out of state.

Unlike most other states, Texas law allows spouses that want their marriages voided to insist on a jury trial. Depending on whether you or your spouse want a jury trial, you’ll have a hearing in front of either a judge or a jury of 12 residents from your county. You’ll have to prove the legal grounds for your annulment to the judge or jury. If the judge or jury believes you’ve proven your case, your marriage will be declared void.

Effect of an Annulment

When your marriage is declared void, it is like you never had a marriage to begin with. Legally, you can say you were never married to your former spouse.

But, a judge can still decide divorce-related issues during an annulment case just as if you had been married, such as custody, visitation, child support, alimony, and property division.

Children born from void marriages are considered legitimate, meaning they have the same rights as children from valid marriages. Legitimate children have the right to be financially supported by both parents and inherit from either parent.

Resources

To read the full text of Texas law on annulment, see the  Texas Family Code sections 6.101-6.206.

Contact information for all of the  Texas district courts is here.

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