Unlike an action for divorce, a court ordered annulment is a statement that the marriage itself is void or invalid and, in some circumstances, has the effect of establishing that the marriage never occurred. Not all annulments are made the same, however, and there are two types of marriages which can be annulled: those which are void and those which are voidable.
A void marriage is one that was never valid. As a result, this type of marriage must be deemed annulled. There are four categories specified in the Pennsylvania Divorce Code at Section 3304 which dictate that a marriage be deemed void. Those four circumstances include:
- If either party to the marriage was married to another person at the time of the second marriage;
- If the parties to the marriage are related by blood;
- If either party had a serious mental illness or was deemed mentally incompetent at the time of the marriage such that that party could not have provided legal consent to the marriage; and/or
- If either party to the marriage was under the age of eighteen (18) at the time of marriage.
- Where either party to the marriage was under 16 years of age, unless the marriage was expressly authorized by the court.
- Where either party was 16 or 17 years of age and lacked the consent of parent or guardian or express authorization of the court and has not subsequently ratified the marriage upon reaching 18 years of age and an action for annulment is commenced within 60 days after the marriage ceremony.
- Where either party to the marriage was under the influence of alcohol or drugs and an action for annulment is commenced within 60 days after the marriage ceremony.
- Where either party to the marriage was at the time of the marriage and still is naturally and incurably impotent, unless the condition was known to the other party prior to the marriage.
- Where one party was induced to enter into the marriage due to fraud, duress, coercion or force attributable to the other party and there has been no subsequent voluntary cohabitation after knowledge of the fraud or release from the effects of fraud, duress, coercion or force.
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