Like a traditional divorce, an annulment ends a marriage. However, an annulment is a legal proceeding that goes further by declaring a marriage invalid or void through a court order. It's as if the marriage never happened.
Oklahoma recognizes several grounds for annulment that fit into one of two categories: void and voidable marriages. To obtain an annulment, one of the following grounds must be proven.
Void marriages are prohibited by law in Oklahoma and are not legal. The conduct of the spouses, such as continued cohabitation (living together) cannot ratify the marriage or make it valid. Marriages are void if the spouses are close relatives, or one of them already had another living spouse (bigamy or polygamy).
Voidable marriages are those that are valid but can be declared void under certain circumstances. Specifically, grounds for voidable marriages can be waived by continued living together (cohabitation) after the condition is discovered or cured. Voidable marriages include:
While the fact that one or both spouses was underage at the time of marriage constitutes grounds for an annulment, if the spouses continue to freely cohabitate after both have reached the age of consent, such a claim is waived.
A marriage that takes place before the expiration of six months from the date either spouse was divorced is a voidable marriage. In order to annul such a remarriage, an annulment action must be brought within the six-month period. However, Oklahoma law does not allow a marriage to be annulled on this ground if the spouses continue to cohabitate past the six-month period.
Although fraud is grounds for an annulment, fraud can be waived if the spouses continue to live together after discovering the fraud. Specifically, in a situation where fraud would be sufficient for an annulment, if the innocent spouse discovers the fraud and does not immediately separate and live apart from the offending spouse, the fraud may have been waived and the innocent spouse has ratified the marriage, preventing an annulment on fraud grounds.
An annulment in Oklahoma requires a trial and hearing before a judge to prove the grounds for annulment. In certain circumstances, an action for annulment can be brought by parents if their child was under age 18 and their consent was not obtained for the marriage or if their child lacks mental capacity.
An annulment will require at least one of the grounds to be proven in court. This will require paperwork to be filed with the court and a court hearing with evidence including documents and/or witnesses that the support a claim for annulment.
For more specific information regarding the procedure to obtain an annulment and what to expect at a hearing, please contact a local Oklahoma family law attorney for assistance.
In Oklahoma, although an annulment results in a voidable marriage, it does not affect the legitimacy of children born during the marriage. Simply, children born while parents are married in a lawful state or religious ceremony are legitimate even if that marriage is later annulled or declared void by a judge. And an annulment does nothing to affect custody or child support and instead establishes a presumption of paternity. In certain instances, Oklahoma law also allows reasonable spousal support or alimony.
For a complete list of the grounds and effects of an annulment proceeding in Oklahoma, see 43 Okl.St.Ann. § 103 et seq.
See Stone v. Stone, 193 Okla. 458, 145 P.2d 212 (1944).