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. In some cases, it's as if the marriage never happened.
Oregon 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 those prohibited by law in Oregon and are not legal. With void marriages, the spouse's conduct, such as continued cohabitation cannot ratify the marriage or make it valid. Void marriages include:
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 live together after both have reached the age of consent, a claim for annulment will be waived.
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.
Two kinds of annulments exist in Oregon: those for void marriages and those for voidable marriages. Void marriages are invalid immediately and do not require a court order to be annulled. By contrast, annulment of a voidable marriage in Oregon 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 Oregon family law attorney for assistance.
In Oregon, 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. This includes a child born within six months of when the marriage is annulled or voided. Additionally, an annulment does nothing to affect custody or child support and instead establishes a presumption of paternity.
For a complete list of the grounds and effects of an annulment proceeding in Oregon, see O.R.S. § 106 et seq.; and O.R.S. § 107 et seq.