Marriage ends by death, divorce or annulment in Vermont. This article explains how an annulment differs from a divorce, how to get an annulment in Vermont, and the effect of an annulment.
If you have other questions after reading this article, you should contact an experienced family law attorney in Vermont.
Although both end a marriage, divorce and annulment have very different meanings. A divorce ends a valid marriage. An annulment means the court has decided that no valid marriage ever existed.
To have your marriage annulled in Vermont, you need to show that you have a legal "ground" (reason) for the annulment. There are several recognized grounds for annulment in Vermont, including:
Some of these legal grounds have specific rules:
If a spouse got married under the age of 16, but freely continued to live with the other spouse after turning 18, the marriage won't be annulled.
If a spouse was insane at the time of the marriage, but has regained sanity and the spouses continued to live together thereafter, the marriage won't be annulled.
For a marriage to be annulled because one spouse is impotent, the other spouse has to file for annulment within two years of the date they were married.
To request an annulment, you'll need to file a "Complaint for Annulment" in the superior court for the county where you or your spouse lives. Either your or your spouse needs to have lived in the county for at least six months. The spouse filing for annulment is listed as the "plaintiff" in the complaint, the other spouse is the "defendant." Contact your superior court county clerk's office to see if it has a sample form you can use to file for annulment. A link to contact information for all Vermont superior courts is below.
You will need to provide certain information to the court in your complaint. You'll list you and your spouse's full name, date of birth, and address. You should give the date of your marriage and the city and state where you were married. State your legal grounds for annulment. Also, you'll want to list everything you need the court to decide, including child custody, child support, visitation, alimony, and property division.
When you file your complaint with the superior court, get an extra copy to serve on your spouse. Your superior court clerk's office can help you determine which option to serve your spouse is best; although it can be a bit tricky, your spouse can still be served even he or she lives out of state or is missing.
After your spouse has been served with the complaint, you'll have a hearing in court where you'll need to prove your legal grounds for annulment. You will need to present evidence to support your legal grounds for annulment. Witnesses who can support your case may testify too. If the judge believes you've proven your case, you will receive an order granting annulment of your marriage.
An order granting annulment of your marriage means you were never legally married to your spouse. Even though you were never married, the judge can still decide the same issues during an annulment as during a divorce: custody, visitation, child support, alimony, and property division.
Children of annulled marriages are still considered legitimate in Vermont, and have the same rights as children from valid marriages. Children of annulled marriages have the right to be supported by both parents and can inherit from both parents.
To read the full text of Vermont law on annulment, see the Vermont Statutes Annotated Title 15, Chapter 11.
Contact information for all Vermont superior courts is here.