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In order to file for an annulment, a party must establish the underlying marriage was either void or voidable. Under 23 Pa C.S. 3304, void marriages include those where (1) one of the spouses is still in a former marriage, (2) the parties are too closely related, (3) either of the parties was incapable of consenting to the marriage, usually due to mental disorder, or (4) either of the parties was under 18 if claiming a common law marriage. A void marriage is one that is invalid because it violates some public policy.

Under 23 Pa C.S. 3305 grounds for voidable marriage include: (1) where either party is under 16 without court approval, (2) where either party is 16 or 17 without court approval or parental consent, (3) where either party was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the ceremony impacting their ability to consent, (4) either of the parties is incurably impotent, or (5) there was fraud, duress, coercion or force to secure the marriage. A voidable marriage is presumptively valid unless a party challenges it. There is a sixty day time limit to pursue an annulment from the ceremony date for several of the voidable grounds. Additionally, regarding void and voidable marriages, the right to annulment is lost if there is subsequent confirmation of the marriage after becoming aware of the potential grounds for annulment. Where an annulment is to be granted, equitable distribution and potential support claims may proceed just as in a divorce action.

An annulment proceeds similar to a fault-ground divorce in terms of procedure. First, it must be established that an annulment is appropriate. Pennsylvania acknowledges annulment for void and voidable marriages. Under 23 Pa C.S. 3304, void marriages include those where (1) one of the spouses is still in a former marriage, (2) the parties are too closely related, (3) either of the parties was incapable of consenting to the marriage, usually due to mental disorder, or (4) either of the parties was under 18 if claiming a common law marriage. A void marriage is one that is invalid because it violates some public policy. In contrast, a voidable marriage is presumptively valid unless a party challenges it.

23 Pa C.S. 3305 lays out the grounds for annulment of a voidable marriage. Grounds for voidable marriage include: (1) where either party is under 16 without court approval, (2) where either party is 16 or 17 without court approval or parental consent, (3) where either party was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the ceremony impacting their ability to consent, (4) either of the parties is incurably impotent, or (5) there was fraud, duress, coercion or force to secure the marriage. There is a sixty day time limit to pursue an annulment from the ceremony date for several of the voidable grounds. Additionally, regarding void and voidable marriages, the right to annulment is lost if there is subsequent confirmation of the marriage after becoming aware of the potential grounds for annulment. Where an annulment is to be granted, equitable distribution and potential support claims may proceed just as in a divorce action.

Click here to read more on grounds for divorce.

There are two options for ending a marriage in Pennsylvania: divorce or annulment. An annulment may only be pursued where the marriage itself was void or voidable. A marriage is void where either party was still married at the time of the current marriage, the parties are related to a certain degree, either party did not consent to the marriage due to incapacity or serious mental health disorder, or either party was under 18 at the time of the marriage. These grounds for annulment can be pursued so long as there was no confirmation of the marriage by continuance of the marital relationship after one of the above-mentioned grounds was discovered.

Grounds for annulment for voidable marriages include instances where either party was under the age of 16 without express court approval, either party was 16 or 17 without parental consent or court approval, either party was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, a party is incurably impotent and the other party has no knowledge of the same prior to the marriage, or where a party was induced into marriage by fraud, duress or coercion. For several of the grounds, a complaint for annulment must be filed within sixty days after the marriage ceremony. Also, similar to the grounds for a void marriage, the parties cannot subsequently ratify the marriage by continuing as spouses after they have learned of the potential ground for annulment. Procedurally, annulments move forward in the same way as a divorce through the filing of a complaint with the Prothonotary. Any property acquired during the marriage will be subject to equitable distribution.