Understanding Marriage Annulment in Missouri


Looking for information on annulment in Missouri? Our comprehensive guide covers the legal requirements, process, and what you need to know.

What Is a Marriage Annulment?

A marriage annulment, or “nullification of marriage,” is the legal process that terminates a marriage. Unlike a divorce, which dissolves an existing marriage, an annulment recognizes that the marriage never legally existed in the first place. This type of action can be requested by either party in the union and is granted under certain circumstances.

Annulment vs. Divorce

Annulment and divorce are entirely different.

An annulment is a civil court process where the court finds that no valid marriage ever existed. No disposition is made of the property acquired during what is now no longer a marriage. Additionally, no allocation of responsibility for debts incurred during the marriage is made, and no child custody, child support, or spousal support orders are entered. Also, a child born during an annulled marriage or within 300 days following the annulment is a legitimate child.

Divorce is when a court dissolves a lawful and valid marriage so that it no longer exists but in no way finds that the marriage was void from the beginning. In a divorce, the court will address all property owned by the husband and wife and allocate responsibility for all debt incurred during the marriage, child custody, child support, spousal support, attorney’s fees, and litigation costs.

What Qualifies a Marriage for Annulment in Missouri?

In Missouri, there are seven possible bases for an annulment. Under Missouri law, the following “marriages” are either void or voidable, and most can be annulled:

1. Bigamy

This happens when one or both parties are legally married to someone else at the time of this marriage. This sometimes happens inadvertently if one of the “spouses” did not wait 30 days after a previous divorce judgment was entered.

2. Under Age

One of the people was under 18 and did not have the required parental written consent to marry.

3. Close Family Relationship

A marriage is invalid if the people are too closely related. This includes marriages between any of the following: a parent and child; a grandparent and grandchild of any degree; a brother and sister; an aunt and nephew or uncle and niece; or first cousins.

4. Lack of Capacity

One of the people lacked the capacity to consent to the marriage due to a mental or physical disability. Age is a very common basis for a lack of capacity claim.

5. Fraud or Duress

One of the people entered into the “marriage” due to coercion (think shotgun marriage) or fraud or fraud (think misrepresentations on internet dating sites).

A voidable marriage results from the concealment or misrepresentation of one of the essential elements before making the marriage contract. A fraudulent marriage may be valid if one spouse discovers the fraud after the marriage but the other spouse continues to live together.

6. Common Law Marriage

Some states recognize common law marriages as long as a couple holds themselves out as married for an extended period. All common-law marriages after 1921 are void and not recognized by Missouri state law.

7. Sexual Impotence

Suppose the bride or groom cannot have normal sexual intercourse (even if it existed before the marriage). In that case, the court may find the marriage invalid, provided that the impotency is permanent, incurable, and unknown before marriage.


How Long After Marriage Can You Get an Annulment in Missouri?

An annulment may be granted at any time – it has never been too short or too long of a time.

Can You Get an Annulment Without the Other Person?

No, the other person must receive a notice of the petition. If personal service cannot be achieved, upon a showing that an adequate effort was made to locate and, if located, to serve the other party has been made, an order will be issued that service may be had by publication.

Service by publication involves a notice in an obscure publication read by few lawyers and fewer members of the general public. After the publication occurs and 45 days pass, a default judgment of annulment may be granted. A default judgment is called to indicate that the other party did not appear.

How to Get a Marriage Annulment

Regardless of whether the marriage is invalid under any of the above situations and is therefore regarded as having never existed, you must still get an annulment to clarify your marital status.

To ask for a legal annulment, a petition must be filed in the appropriate court, and that court’s procedures must be followed. The person who files the case is called the petitioner, and the other party is the respondent.

The procedure of filing for an annulment involves some cost and time. To get an annulment granted, you must prove that your marriage falls under one of the abovementioned qualifications. You will need to provide proof of your situation to ensure there has been a breach of the marriage contract.

If you are granted a marriage annulment, the court may rule on issues such as custody of children and marital property division. The judge will make these determinations based on the facts and applicable state laws.

Can a Family Law Attorney Help Me With Annulment?

The law regarding annulments is complicated, so you must consult with a knowledgeable divorce and annulment lawyer before filing your case. 

Choosing an annulment or divorce attorney is an important decision. Located in Clayton, Missouri, The Carson Law Firm handles annulment, divorce, child custody, and other family law matters. We strive to provide the highest quality legal services in a professional and personal atmosphere. Our experienced attorneys will help you understand your rights under Missouri law while protecting your interests.

If you have questions about annulment or need assistance with filing for an annulment, please get in touch with us today. Let our team of experienced lawyers assist you in this difficult time. We will provide you with the best legal advice and representation to help you achieve your desired result.

Call us at (314) 200-2252 or contact us online for a consultation. Let us help you move forward with confidence.

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