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.
This type of civil annulment is not to be confused with a religious annulment, which can only be granted by your church or clergy. A religious annulment has no legal effect on your marital status.
There are limited reasons, or grounds, for getting an annulment in Nebraska. Generally, you can get an annulment of your marriage if:
To get an annulment, you have to file a “complaint for an annulment” in the district court of the county in Nebraska in which you live. In the complaint, you have to provide basic information about you, your spouse, your marriage, any children you have together, and why you’re seeking an annulment. After filing, you have to have an adult other than you personally serve, or hand-deliver, the complaint and all accompanying papers to your spouse.
Usually, the judge will have to hold a hearing to determine whether an annulment is proper in your case. A hearing is where you and your spouse will testify under oath and you may present other evidence to help the court make a determination.
If a judge grants an annulment of your marriage, it is as if the marriage never happened. Issues like property, child custody and support are dealt with similarly to how they are dealt with in divorce.
Annulments are usually, but not always, granted a short time after the marriage. Therefore, in regards to property rights, the judge will try to restore you and your spouse with the property you had prior to the marriage. If the annulment is granted after you’ve been married for a longer period of time, dividing property may be more difficult. The judge will try to divide the property fairly.
In regards to children, if you and your spouse had children together, they are still considered “legitimate.” This means that the father is still legally the father, unless it is proven that someone else is the father. Either parent may seek custody of or visitation with the children in a separate court proceeding. Whoever is granted custody of the children can seek child support from the other parent.
For the text of the law governing annulments in Nebraska, see Neb. Rev. Stat. § § 42-373 through 42-378.
There are self-help resources available on the Nebraska Courts website.