Much like a traditional divorce, an annulment ends a marriage. However, an annulment is a legal proceeding that goes even further by declaring a marriage invalid or void through a court order. In some cases, it's as if the marriage never happened.
This article focuses only on civil annulments, not religious annulments, which can only be granted by a church or clergy member and have no legal effect on marital status as far as the state is concerned.
Ohio recognizes several "grounds" (legal reasons) for annulment that fit into one of two categories: void and voidable marriages.
Void marriages are those prohibited by law in Ohio because one of the spouses already was legally married to someone else, or the spouses were close relatives. These marriages aren't valid from the beginning, so any subsequent conduct of the spouses—such as continuing to live together—won't make them valid. (Ohio Rev. Code § 3105.31 (2022).)
Voidable marriages are those that may be be declared void under certain circumstances. Ohio's grounds for annulment that fall into the category of voidable marriages include when:
(Ohio Rev. Code § 3105.31 (2022).)
Ohio law sets time limits for when you may file a legal proceeding to get a court decree annulling a marriage. The time limits depend on the reasons you're claiming the marriage should be annulled (and sometimes on who's filing for annulment):
(Ohio Rev. Code § 3105.32 (2022).)
To get an annulment, you'll need to file a court proceeding and provide evidence to prove your claims. However, if the marriage was invalid from the beginning (because of incest or bigamy), you don't necessarily need to get a court order declaring that the marriage is void (although you still may want to do so). For more specific information on the procedure to get an annulment and what to expect at a hearing, speak with an Ohio family law attorney.
In Ohio, annulment does not affect the parent-child relationship, including the duty to support children and parents' custody rights. Under Ohio law, the legal relationships between children and their natural or adoptive parents don't depend on the parents' legal status. (Ohio Rev. Code § 3111.01 (2022).)
If you're seeking court orders for child custody or child support after an annulment, you may need to file the same kind of legal proceeding as if you were an unmarried parent. To establish a child support order, you can seek assistance from the Ohio Office of Child Support. Otherwise, you should speak to an attorney for help with child custody and support orders.