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An annulment is a legal procedure that voids a marriage and declares it null from its inception. Unlike divorce, the effect of declaring a marriage void is retroactive, meaning that the marriage was void at the time it was entered into. It applies when an impediment to a legal marriage existed at the beginning of the marriage. An annulment is only granted with a showing of specific grounds, which may include:

  • Fraud or coercion
  • An undisclosed prior marriage
  • Incest
  • One or both parties were under the legal age to consent at the time of marriage, as defined by state statute
  • Temporary insanity which existed at the time of marriage, so that the capacity to marry was not present because the person lacked an understanding of the duties and relationship of marriage.

[Last updated in March of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]