Both an annulment and a divorce will end a marriage, but an annulment is retroactive, meaning it erases the marriage from its beginning almost as if the marriage had never existed at all. This is appropriate if your marriage has some defect that caused it to be invalid on the day of your wedding.
The process of annulment originated in the Catholic church, because Catholics treat marriage as a lifelong commitment that may not be undone via divorce. Therefore, the only way for Catholics to end a marriage was to show that it was invalid from the beginning.
Tennessee recognizes several reasons why an annulment might be appropriate:
- One or more of the requirements for a valid marriage were never met.
- One party might refuse to live with or have sexual relations with the other party (also called “refusal to consummate the marriage”).
- One party is impotent, meaning that it is not possible to either engage in sexual relations or produce children.
- One party was pressured into the marriage by force, restraint, or threat.
- One party was induced to marry by fraud, and that party actually relied on the fraudulent information when entering the marriage.
However, there are defenses to all of these. For example, an annulment may be appropriate if one of the parties was underage at the time of the ceremony. However, if the couple continues to live together as man and wife after both parties reach the age of maturity, the marriage has been ratified and cannot be undone. If the couple wants to end the marriage, they will have to seek a divorce.
If you think you may need an annulment you should definitely seek the help and advice of a lawyer. Contact me to find out how I can help you.