The Basics of Annulment in Ohio

Learn about the grounds for an annulment and how to get one in Ohio.

By , Attorney · Brigham Young University J. Reuben Clark Law School
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Overview of Annulment

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.

Grounds for an Annulment in Ohio

Ohio recognizes several "grounds" (legal reasons) for annulment that fit into one of two categories: void and voidable marriages.

Grounds for Void 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).)

Grounds for Voidable Marriages

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:

  • a spouse was under the age of consent at the time of the marriage, unless the spouses continued living together after that spouse came of age
  • a spouse was unable to consent to the marriage due to mental incapacity or incompetence, unless the couple continued living together after that spouse's competency was restored
  • a spouse used fraud or force to get the other spouse to consent to the marriage, unless they continued living together after the other spouse knew all the facts, or
  • the spouses never consummated the marriage, even though it was otherwise valid.

(Ohio Rev. Code § 3105.31 (2022).)

Time Limits on Seeking an Annulment in Ohio

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):

  • within two years after the date of the marriage when you're claiming that your marriage was by force or wasn't consummated
  • within two years after learning the facts around your spouse's use of fraud to get your consent to the marriage
  • within two years after you've turned 18, if you're seeking an annulment based on the fact that you were underage when you were married
  • before an underage spouse turns 18, if you're that spouse's parent or guardian seeking annulment of the marriage
  • while you're spouse is still alive, if you're seeking an annulment based on your spouse's bigamy
  • before either spouse's death when an aggrieved spouse or a spouse's relative or guardian is seeking annulment based on mental incompetence.

(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.

Effects of an Annulment on Children and Support

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.

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