Annulment is a relatively rare special action that establishes that your marriage never existed. If a court finds the facts necessary to grant an annulment, it is as if you and your spouse were never married. The factors necessary to prove an annulment are difficult to meet. Maryland courts are reluctant to grant an annulment and may grant a divorce instead.
In Maryland, you may file for an annulment in the county you reside in or in the county where the marriage ceremony took place.
Read the Law: Md. Code, Courts and Judicial Proceedings § 6-202
An action for annulment should be filed within a reasonable time after the grounds are known to the party seeking the decree.
Annulments are not granted without clear proof that the marriage is invalid. The court’s decision to annul a marriage means that no marriage came into being; however, the court decree will protect the property rights of the parties and provide for the support of the children. The decree may also award alimony. Furthermore, children are not made illegitimate by the granting of an annulment.
Read the Law: Md. Code, Family Law §§ 8-202, 8-203, 8-207, 8-213
A void marriage is always invalid. Either of the parties to the marriage or a third person can bring an action to declare the marriage void at any time. A marriage is void if at the time of the ceremony:
- Either party was legally married to someone else;
- The parties are related by birth or marriage within impermissible degrees, such as parents, grandparents, children, or grandchildren or their spouse or spouse’s children, a brother or sister or their children, an aunt or uncle, a stepparent or stepchild, or a spouse’s parent, grandparent, or grandchild; or,
- Either party was legally insane or otherwise mentally incompetent to enter the contract.
A voidable marriage is valid until a court declares it to be invalid, and only the victimized party may challenge the validity of the marriage. It doesn't matter how long the couple has been married. However, the marriage cannot be annulled if the parties continue to live together after the reason for the marriage being voidable no longer exists. A marriage is voidable if at the time of the ceremony:
- Either party was under the age of 18, except:
- The underage party was at least 16 years of age with parental consent; or
- The underage party had parental consent and a physician’s certification of pregnancy
- Either party was physically incapable of intercourse;
- Consent was procured by fraud, duress or force;
- Either party lacked understanding to consent; or
- The marriage ceremony was performed by someone without legal authority to perform it.