Annulling a marriage is a court action seeking to determine that a marriage is void because there was something legally defective in the original marriage. If a marriage is found to be void, the law treats it as it never existed between two people. Unlike a divorce, a decree of annulment signifies you were never legally married.
Grounds for Annulment in Oklahoma
In order to receive an order from a court invalidating a marriage, there must be some legally sufficient reason for the court to do so. Oklahoma recognizes several reasons to invalidate a marriage such as:
1. A prior marriage still exists. The marriage is void because one spouse was still married to a previous spouse. This can sometimes occur because an attorney was not used for an uncontested divorce and the divorce was not legally valid.
2. Underage. One of the spouses was underage and therefore could not legally agree to be married. In order to invalidate this type of marriage, it generally must be filed before the underage spouse reaches 18 years of age.
3. Incompetence. One of the spouses was legally incompetent at the time the marriage was entered into. If a spouse becomes legally incompetent later in the marriage, an annulment cannot be used.
4. Too closely biologically related. If the spouses are too closely related, the marriage is statutorily void.
5. Fraud. Oklahoma case law recognizes fraudulent inducement to marry as grounds for annulling a marriage. Courts have dealt with several types of behavior which constitutes fraud rising to the level of invalidating a marriage. They include:
- Faking pregnancy to secure a marriage. If woman purposely pretends to be pregnant in order to obtain a marriage, the marriage may be rendered void by an Oklahoma court.
- Green card marriages. If it can be legally proved the marriage was only entered into to obtain citizenship or other immigration status, the marriage is voidable.
- An intentional false claim of paternity. In this situation the mother of a child claims the man is the father of her child to coerce him into marriage. The mother must know the child is not the child of the alleged father.
- Concealment of drug use. For an action to be filed for drug use, the use must have started before the spouses were married. The other spouse must not have known about the drug use otherwise the marriage is still valid and cannot be annulled. The spouse seeking to invalidate the marriage must also show that they would not have agreed to marry had the drug use been known.
This is not an exhaustive list of the grounds for an annulment based on fraud under Oklahoma law. Any intentional misrepresentation of an important fact to induce marriage may be significant enough to warrant voiding the marriage. If you do not meet one of the grounds to have your marriage voided, the only way out of the marriage is to file for divorce.