The US economy throughout the invention of legal separation between married partners has indicated a boom in the divorce industry. The United States of America is one of the highest divorce-producing countries on the planet. It is quite understandable then that business-savvy law firms and attorneys hunt to kill potential divorcees and parties pursuing amicable legal means to part ways.
Separating or breaking off a marriage can be a very complicated legal issue – not only does it involve at least two different parties, each with their own lives and ambition, but also the crucial matters that pertain to property rights, alimonies, and benefits. Additionally, if a marriage involves offspring or children, a Pandora’s Box of legal complexities surrounding custodial and visitation rights also comes to the fore.
What Really Is Annulment?
As opposed to divorce which is a means of legally terminating a lawful marriage, annulments call for the complete erasure of marriage – as if it never legally occurred in the first place. In basic terms, a divorce ends a valid marriage while an annulment is a means to declare a marriage invalid, having no official credence or recognition in the eyes of the Law.
The Commonwealth of Virginia allows and provides for annulments. However, particular conditions are required to be met before initiating or petitioning for an annulment of marriage. These conditions are primarily based around credible defects in a marriage. These defects will obviously have to be proven in a court of law before an annulment can be progressed. Credible defects accepted by Virginia’s code include fraudulent activities to invoke a marriage, withholding crucial information from your partner such as conviction or employment history or falsifying such essential details. All defects usually start from these premises of falsification or coercion and extend to include incest and impotence as credible defects.
How to get an annulment in Virginia?
Annulment processes can seem very simple at times. But like all other forms of legal separation including divorce, they can get severely sophisticated if not handled appropriately. We have simplified a general annulment process in Virginia. It is always advisable, however, to seek further legal counsel on your particular case. Never underestimate the importance of being thorough.
First off, you must determine if your partnership constitutes legally tenable grounds to be voided or erased entirely off the legal chart – ask yourself the important questions such as if you or your partner were under the age of marital consent during marriage, if either of you had another offspring and failed to disclose it, if you are blood-related to your marital partner, did either of you falsify information to initiate the marriage, did either of you enter into marriage based upon getting benefits such as citizenship, etc.
After determining if you are filing for a voidable marriage or an already void one, you must immediately file a petition. If you are pursuing an annulment of a VOIDABLE marriage, Virginia only accepts annulment requests within two years of the marriage date. In void marriages, the statute of limitations does not apply.
Gather and organize all credible evidence that establishes grounds for annulment – this can include your partner’s or your criminal history, known offspring outside of the marriage, etc.
Approach clerks and clerical staff to obtain VS-4 forms among all other necessary legal forms from the Civil Intake Division of the Virginia Circuit Court. This Division must sit or reside in the same county where one of the spouses has lived for at least six months
Organize a Bill of Complaint. This is merely a document detailing contact and residential details of both spouses, date, and place of marriage, grounds of annulment and, a formal request for seeking an annulment. Ensure authentic signatures of both parties on the Bill in the presence of a notary public.
Keep a log of all forms filled up to now and all relevant documents, keep them in triplicates and preserve originals (if not asked for by the court)
Complete your initial summons and fill form VS-4.
Submit your VS-4 form along with the Bill of Complaint to the court clerk of the Virginia Circuit Court. The Court and session must sit at the same county where at least one of the spouses has resided for (for at least six months).
Submit your summons to the sheriff’s office. The jurisdiction of this office must be over your spouse’s county of residence in the case they reside in Virginia. In the case where your spouse is not a resident of Virginia, you must fill out an affidavit stating your spouse’s residence out of state, supplementing it with their last known address. Make sure to get this signed in the presence of a notary public. Deliver your Bill of Complaint, the affidavit, and summons to the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Virginia. The sheriff’s office will then process the documents and notify the court when the papers have been served.
Attend your court hearing and bring all supporting credible information and evidence along with you. If the annulment is opposed, the judge may set a trial date to further legally proceed the matter with the cross-examination of witnesses and testimonies.