It is common for people to misunderstand what an annulment is. A civil annulment cannot be obtained in any circumstance, and any kind of annulment has unique requirements that must be met. Many people want to secure an annulment rather than a divorce, as a divorce is known for being long and difficult. If you are unsure whether your marriage can be annulled or not, talk with a skilled Springfield, IL, family lawyer.

An annulment is a legal action to void a marriage, stating that it never existed. This is different from a divorce, which recognizes the existence of the marriage before dissolving it properly. In some cases, your relationship may qualify for an annulment, but it is in your interests to get a divorce anyway. In Illinois, an annulment is called a declaration of invalidity.

When Can You Get an Annulment?

There are specific grounds to get an annulment in Illinois, and they apply when the legal criteria for getting married aren’t met. Marriage is a contract, and violations of this contract law invalidate the existence of the marriage. Either spouse can file for an annulment, and, in some cases, a third party can file for an annulment. If the party can prove grounds for annulment, the court will grant it, and it will be as though the marriage never existed. The grounds for an annulment in Springfield are as follows:

  1. Lack of Capacity: One of the spouses did not have the capacity to consent to the marriage. This may include mental incapacity or influence from drugs or alcohol. It also includes when one party enters into a marriage while under force or duress or because of fraud.
  2. Impotency: One spouse does not have the physical ability to consummate the marriage, and the other spouse was unaware of this at the time of the marriage.
  3. Underage Lack of Consent: One spouse was 16 or 17 and did not have parental, guardian, or court approval. 16- or 17-year-olds cannot consent to their own marriage legally. Children 15 and under cannot legally get married.
  4. Prohibited: Some marriages are prohibited under state law.

In some cases, marriages that could be annulled based on these circumstances can become legitimate. If one spouse discovers that their spouse is impotent, or that they got married without the capacity to consent, but they chose not to get or fail to file for an annulment in a certain period of time, their marriage becomes legitimate. This does not apply to prohibited marriages.

Unlike the other situations for annulment, prohibited marriages can never be made legitimate. There are two reasons why a marriage would be prohibited under Illinois state law. These marriages are always illegal. Prohibited marriages include:

  1. Bigamous marriages, which means that one spouse has a prior valid marriage that wasn’t dissolved, making subsequent marriages void
  2. Incestuous marriages, where the two spouses are closely related, including those related through adoption, half-blood, or whole-blood

For most annulment petitions, they must be filed within 90 days of discovering the cause of the annulment, such as lack of capacity, duress, or fraud. If the grounds for annulment are impotency, a spouse has one year from the date of discovery to file for an annulment. If the grounds for annulment are due to one spouse being an underage individual, it must be annulled before the underage party turns 18, either by a spouse or the guardian of the minor.

What Is the Effect of an Annulment vs. a Divorce?

Because an annulment voids a marriage, the court does not have jurisdiction over many aspects of the separation. In a divorce, the spouses would separate their marital assets and decide on spousal support, and the court would do so if the spouses cannot. The court cannot do this in an annulment.

This may mean that the spouses have a simpler financial separation, or it could mean significantly less financial protection for a lower-earning spouse. In some cases, it is in your interests to file for divorce to have that legal protection.


Q: How Much Does It Cost to Get an Annulment in Illinois?

A: The cost to get an annulment in Illinois depends on the county you file it in, but it can range from $95.00 to $450.00. It may also be higher or lower, depending on the specific requirements of your unique county. If you work with an attorney to secure an annulment, this can make the process easier but also more expensive. A family law attorney can charge on an hourly basis or a flat fee. For a simple case like filing an annulment, an attorney is likely to charge a flat fee.

Q: When Can You Annul a Marriage in Illinois?

A: You can annul a marriage in Illinois for specific reasons, including:

  1. One spouse was under the age of 15.
  2. One spouse was 16 or 17, but they did not have parental or court consent to marry.
  3. The marriage is incestuous.
  4. One spouse was already married, making the second marriage invalid.
  5. One spouse did not have the mental capacity to agree to the marriage.
  6. One spouse was physically unable to consummate the marriage, and this could not have been known beforehand.

When one spouse discovers a reason why the marriage should be annulled, they can file for annulment.

Q: What Is the Difference Between a Void and a Voidable Marriage?

A: A void marriage is one that is prohibited by state law and is therefore invalid regardless of circumstance, while a voidable marriage is a marriage that is valid unless certain factors are present. Void marriages include bigamous and incestuous marriages. Voidable marriages include lack of capacity or ability to consent, impotence, and underage marriages without proper consent.

Voidable marriages can be valid if a spouse discovers the voiding reason and does not take action to have it annulled in a set amount of time.

Q: Is Cheating Grounds for Annulment?

A: No, cheating is not grounds for annulment. You can file for divorce on no-fault grounds, but a divorce is the dissolution of a marriage, while an annulment acts as though the marriage never existed. Bigamy is grounds for an annulment, where your spouse married you despite already having a valid and continued marriage.

Contact Stange Law Firm in Springfield, IL

If you are unsure of the right method to dissolve or invalidate your marriage, contact a divorce attorney at Stange Law Firm. We can help you determine if you qualify for an annulment and find a method that protects your rights.