Wyoming allows some types of marriages to be ended by annulment rather than divorce. This article explains what an annulment is, how to get an annulment in Wyoming, and the effects of an annulment.
Speak with a Wyoming family law attorney about any specific questions you have after reading this article. You should also check with the district court clerk’s office for your county to see if they have forms you can use to file for annulment.
Overview of an Annulment
Both divorce and annulment mean the end to a marriage. Divorce is used to end a valid marriage, while annulment ends a marriage that was never valid. If your marriage should have been invalid from the beginning, you may be eligible for an annulment in Wyoming.
Grounds For an Annulment
Wyoming requires that you prove one of certain legal grounds to have your marriage annulled. The legal grounds for annulment in Wyoming are:
- Bigamy – one spouse has a living husband or wife at the time of marriage
- Incompetence – one spouse couldn’t mentally understand what the marriage meant
- Incest – the spouses are related, closer than first cousins
- Underage – one spouse was under the legal age for marriage
- Force – one spouse was forced or threatened at the time of marriage
- Fraud – one spouse was lying about or hiding something essential at the time of marriage, and
- Impotence – one spouse can’t have sexual intercourse.
There are additional conditions for some legal grounds:
If a spouse can’t mentally understand the concept of marriage, like a spouse who is insane, intoxicated, or mentally disabled at the time of marriage, that spouse may be considered incompetent. If a spouse was incompetent at the time of marriage, they may be eligible for annulment unless they continued to live with the other spouse when they’re no longer incompetent.
You can get married in Wyoming at age 18, or 16 with a parent or guardian’s consent, and under 16 only with the approval of a parent or guardian and a county judge. If an underage spouse had proper permission at the time of marriage, that spouse is not eligible for an annulment. The court also won’t grant an annulment if the underage spouse continues to live with the other spouse after turning 18.
For a court to annul a marriage because of fraud or force, the spouses can’t continue to freely live together after the fraud has been discovered or the force is no longer being exerted. If they do continue to live together, then the marriage isn't eligible for annulment.
If a spouse is unable to have sexual intercourse, the other spouse has to file for an annulment within the first two years of marriage, or the marriage won’t be annulled.
How Do I Get an Annulment?
In Wyoming, you file a “Complaint for Annulment” in district court of the county where you’ve lived for at least 60 days. The spouse filing the complaint is the “plaintiff,” and the other spouse is the “defendant.”
You’ll need to list you and your spouse’s full names, and the date of your marriage. Your complaint needs to say that you’ve lived in the county for at least 60 days. State your legal grounds for annulment. If you have children, list their names and dates of birth. If you want the judge to decide child custody, visitation, child support, or division of property, state that in your complaint as well.
Next, file the complaint with your county’s district court clerk’s office. You’ll need to get a copy of the filed complaint to serve on your spouse. Your county clerk’s office can help you pick the best option to serve your spouse. There are options to serve an out of state spouse or a spouse that can’t be found.
The district court will schedule a hearing for you to appear and explain your legal grounds for annulment. You should bring any evidence and witnesses that can prove your legal grounds. If the judge believes you’ve proven your case, your marriage will be annulled.
Effect of an Annulment
An annulled marriage means the parties were never legally married. Annulment is the court deciding that you and your spouse’s marriage never existed.
In the order granting annulment, the judge can also grant the other things you asked for in your complaint, including child support, child custody, visitation, and property division.
Children from annulled marriages are treated the same as children from valid marriages. If a child was born during an annulled marriage or 300 days after, the child can inherit from either parent and both parents must financially support the child.
To read the full text of Wyoming law on annulment, see the Wyoming Statutes, Title 20, Chapter 2.
Contact information for the district courts for all Wyoming counties is here.