Tag Archives: annulment in Illinois

IL divorce lawyerPeople make mistakes and sometimes, that mistake is marrying the wrong person. When one or both people think getting married was a mistake, they often wonder if they can obtain an annulment instead of going through the complicated process of divorce. Couples are more inclined to think this when they have been married for a very short period of time.

Annulments are only available in very limited situations in Illinois. However, for couples that are ineligible for an annulment, there is another option that is sometimes a possibility. That is a joint simplified dissolution of marriage. So, what are the differences, and how does a couple qualify for either? Find out below.

Eligibility for an Annulment

The Illinois statutes do not actually refer to the word ‘annulment.’ Instead, the term ‘declaration of invalidity of marriage is used. To declare a marriage invalid is to say that it is void and essentially makes it as though the marriage never happened. Declaring a marriage invalid is only done under certain circumstances, which include:

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IL divorce lawyerSometimes a person that is married wants out of the relationship, but they do not want to get a divorce. In some cases, a person’s religious beliefs prevent them from getting a divorce, but there are many reasons a person may wish to annul their marriage. Although annulments are granted in Illinois courts, this method of dissolving a marriage has specific requirements and when those are not met, a couple must go through the divorce process to end their marriage. Although the process of annulling a marriage is vastly different from the divorce process, anyone wishing to obtain an annulment should still speak to an Illinois family lawyer.

The Difference Between Divorce and Annulment

Many people think that divorce and annulment both mean the same thing because each of these terms refers to the end of a marriage. However, they do each have their differences.

When a couple gets an annulment, it is as though the marriage never happened because it was not legal in the first place. It is for this reason that an annulment is known as a “Declaration of Invalidity Marriage” under Illinois law.

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Illinois marriage laws, Illinois divorce attorneyAs an ongoing project of the Illinois State Archives and the Illinois Genealogical Society, those interested in researching the civil unions of their ancestors can visit the homepage of the Illinois Secretary of State to view marriage records as far back as 1763. Although it appears that the concept of marriage has always been alive and well throughout the ages, it does leave one wondering how many of these marriages either dissolved in some form of divorce or lasted a lifetime until death do they part? The latter is most likely the correct assumption.

In the 1700’s and even more so in the earlier days of man, women feared what could happen if they dared to escape their marital bonds as the cost was high. During this time, the wife, as well as all children, were considered the inherent property of the husband and if scorned, the women could be left desolate. Often the wife’s family would also distance themselves from her plight as they would side with the husband’s side of the family either to safeguard relationships with grandchildren or they were financially beholden to the husband. The vast majority of these wandering women were lost to prostitution, starvation, or death by their own hand.

These dire circumstances could be avoided and a divorce or annulment granted if it could be proven to the courts that either the husband or wife committed adultery or if the marriage was not consummated.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_time-limit-annulment-illinois.jpgCommon sense would make you think an annulment—which declares the marriage never existed—would be simpler, but this is not necessarily true. Divorce is by far simpler to obtain since irreconcilable differences can be used as the grounds in most cases. Beginning in 2016, irreconcilable differences will be the only grounds available for any divorce in Illinois.

Are There Time Limits On The Grounds For Annulment In Illinois?

Yes. 750 ILCS 5/302

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bigamy and annulment, Illinois divorce lawyerDo not try this, because if you are the spouse guilty of bigamy (a crime in Illinois), it is a Class 4 felony. Illinois law (720 ILCS 5/11-45) states the following regarding bigamy and marrying a bigamist:

(a) Bigamy. A person commits bigamy when that person has a husband or wife and subsequently knowingly marries another...

(c) Sentence. Bigamy is a Class 4 felony. Marrying a bigamist is a Class A misdemeanor.

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