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How Long Can You Be Married and Still Get an Annulment?

married and still get an annulment

Imagine walking down the aisle, all eyes on you as you’re about to seal vows with your partner. The moment is perfect; however, after some time, you realize that not everything is as rosy as it initially seemed. You’ve discovered a significant issue with your marriage and are now considering an annulment.

But how long can you stay married and still be eligible for an annulment? Is there a time limit, or does it depend on other factors?

Generally, when it comes to an annulment, it doesn’t matter whether you’ve been married for two days or twenty years – what counts is whether there were any grounds making your union invalid right from its beginning. This article aims to shed light on the grounds for an annulment, how to get one, and how our family law attorneys can help.

Grounds for Annulment: How to Know if You Have a Voidable Marriage

An annulment is based on conditions existing at the time of marriage. It means that for specific reasons (such as fraud, coercion, or inability to consummate the union), your marriage never technically existed in the eyes of the law. These factors need to have been present at the inception of your marriage – not something that developed over time.

In South Carolina, the factors or grounds for annulment can include:

  • The marriage was never consummated (you did not live together)
  • One of the spouses was already married (bigamy)
  • One of the spouses was aged less than 16 years and was not legally able to marry
  • One of the spouses was mentally incompetent and could not consent to marriage
  • The spouses are closely related more so than first cousins
  • One of the spouses coerced the other into getting married

If one or more of these factors are present, you may have grounds to annul a marriage. While annulments tend to happen early on in the marriage, these timeframes may be less rigid if you can provide solid evidence supporting your claims.

Legal Time Limit for Annulment

South Carolina has no time limit or statute of limitations for seeking an annulment. Unlike divorce, an annulment treats the marriage as though it never happened. This means there isn’t any specific ‘expiry date’ or set duration after which you lose your right to seek an annulment. However, it’s advised to be pursued immediately after discovering the grounds for annulment.

Remember that each case is unique and subject to different laws depending on your location and circumstances; consult a family law attorney before making legal decisions about time-sensitive annulments.

How to Get an Annulment in South Carolina

Navigating the annulment process can be complicated and time-consuming, with numerous steps involved. Here is a general outline of the process:

  1. Consult with a family law attorney to understand the annulment process and discuss your specific situation.
  2. Ensure that you have met the residency requirement of living in South Carolina for at least one year.
  3. File a “Complaint for Annulment” in the family court of the county where your spouse resides. As the filing party, you will be the “plaintiff,” and your spouse will be the “defendant.”
  4. Include relevant details in your complaint, such as the date, city, county, and state of your marriage. Provide the county of residence for both you and your spouse. Also, include the names and birthdates of any children born during the marriage.
  5. Clearly state the legal grounds that make your marriage eligible for annulment in the complaint.
  6. If you wish to address matters like child custody, child support, visitation, alimony, or property division, specify these requests in your complaint.
  7. File the complaint with the family court in the county in which you live and ensure that you understand the process for serving a copy of the complaint to your spouse.
  8. Prepare for a hearing scheduled by the family court. Gather any evidence that supports your legal grounds for annulment.
  9. Present your case at the hearing, including the evidence you have collected. If the judge finds your arguments convincing and the legal grounds are met, the judge will grant the annulment.

It is important to note that the annulment process can vary depending on the specific details of your case. Consulting with an attorney who focuses on family law in South Carolina is recommended to ensure that your rights and interests are protected throughout the process.

Seeking Legal Advice From a Family Law Attorney

In matters such as annulment or divorce, an experienced family law attorney can offer insight into your unique situation, helping you understand your rights and options. They can explain how long you can be married and still get an annulment, which largely depends on the grounds for the annulment you’re seeking. They may also suggest other alternatives like mediation or legal separation if they think those options would better suit your circumstances. Consulting with a lawyer will help clarify these different options.

At Steele Family Law, our experienced family law attorneys can help you navigate the complexities of annulment or divorce and make informed decisions about your future well-being. Don’t wait, take action now and prioritize your family’s needs. Contact us today.

Author Bio

Greg Steele is CEO and Managing Partner of Steele Family Law, a South Carolina estate planning and family law firm. With years of experience in practicing law, he has zealously represented clients in a wide range of legal matters, including divorce, child custody and support, estate planning, probate, and other legal cases.

Greg received his Juris Doctor from the University of Georgia and is a member of the South Carolina Bar Association. He has received numerous accolades for his work, including being named among Anderson’s Top 20 Under 40 in 2022.

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