Not all marriages are ended through divorce, although it is the most common legal route to dissolve a marriage. Some marriages are ended through legal separation, which doesn’t legally end a marriage but allows spouses to separate their lives and assets. Marriages can also be ended through annulment, which doesn’t just create a date of separation, but it also treats the marriage as if it never legally existed.
Annulments are easier for some couples, but there are specific qualifications that a couple has to meet to obtain an annulment. An annulment in Oklahoma will be granted by the court if the marriage is proven to be void or voidable.
Void Marriage Annulment
A void marriage is a marriage that is always illegal, no matter the circumstance, and is not a valid marriage. The grounds for a void marriage include:
- Bigamy or polygamy. If one spouse has a prior marriage that is still legally valid, any other marriages are considered void.
- Incest. If spouses are related, the marriage is invalid, void, and illegal.
A void marriage is automatically qualified for an annulment.
Voidable Marriage Annulment
A voidable marriage is a marriage that is considered legal unless one party can prove that there is a reason why it should be found invalid. Depending on the circumstances, the court may then void the marriage. If spouses continue to live together as a married couple after the reason why the marriage would be void passes or has been discovered, the marriage is no longer voidable. The reasons for a voidable annulment may include:
If one or both spouses were under the age of 18 at the time of the marriage, it may be voidable.
Children under the age of 18 but over 16 have to have the consent of a parent or legal guardian to marry. If the child is in the care of the Oklahoma Office of Juvenile Affairs (OJA) or the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS), a parent or legal guardian cannot provide consent to marry. If the child’s parents are deceased, not mentally competent, or can’t be found, and the child has no legal guardian, a judge can grant permission. Children under the age of 16 can only marry in unique circumstances, and permission can only be granted by a judge.
If no permission or consent was granted, the marriage may be found voidable and annulled by the court.
- Mental Incapacitation
If one party did not have the mental capacity to consent to the marriage, or was incompetent when it was entered into, the marriage is voidable. Either the spouse or their parent or guardian can file for the annulment. The marriage may become valid if the individual regains mental capacity and continues living with their spouse in the marriage.
- Fraud, Coercion, Duress, or Lack of Consent
A marriage is only valid if both parties entered into it willingly. If there was no mutual consent to the marriage, or consent was gained through error, coercion, or duress, it is voidable. Fraud may also be a reason for a voidable marriage if the other party would not have consented to the marriage if they had known important information.
- Remarriage Under Six Months Following Divorce
In Oklahoma, couples who get a divorce must wait 6 months after the finalization of their divorce to get remarried to another person in the state. Any marriage entered into before those 6 months are done is voidable by the court. Marriages to individuals out of state cannot be annulled under this statute.
Q: What Qualifies for an Annulment in Oklahoma?
A: A marriage may qualify for an annulment if:
- It is bigamous.
- It is incestuous.
- One party is underage and did not have the consent of a guardian or the court.
- One party was mentally incapable at the time of marriage.
- One party entered an Oklahoma marriage before the six-month waiting period concluded after an Oklahoma divorce.
- The marriage was not entered into willingly but under threat, duress, force, or fraud.
If a marriage was entered into outside of Oklahoma, and the couple moves to Oklahoma, then it is subject to the state’s laws. If an out-of-state marriage is considered invalid according to Oklahoma laws, it can be annulled.
Q: How Long Can You Be Married and Still Get an Annulment in Oklahoma?
A: An Oklahoma marriage cannot be annulled on the grounds that it has only been entered by both parties for a certain period of hours. A short marriage can only be annulled if the couple qualifies for an annulment for another reason. To obtain an annulment, a couple must meet one of the requirements for annulment, such as one party still having a legally valid marriage, one party signing under threat or duress, or one party lacking the mental capacity to sign a legal document.
Q: What Is Legal Invalidation of a Marriage?
A: The legal invalidation of a marriage is called an annulment, which states that a marriage never existed. This may be due to it being a void marriage or one that should never have existed in the first place, such as an incestuous or bigamous marriage. The marriage may also be a voidable marriage, which is a marriage that would otherwise be legally valid if not for reasons brought before the court. These reasons may include remarriage before a six-month waiting period, marriage under duress, or marriages where one party is underage.
Q: How Does Divorce Work in Oklahoma?
A: In Oklahoma, you can file based on no-fault grounds of incompatibility or on fault-based grounds. Filing for a fault-based divorce may include reasons such as:
- Living separately
A no-fault divorce is more common and often takes significantly less time and money to resolve. Both fault-based and no-fault divorces require at least one spouse to have an Oklahoma residency for at least 6 months.
Contact Stange Law Firm
Few marriages qualify for annulment, but it may be a faster alternative to divorce or legal separation if you are able to secure one. However, because an annulment erases the marriage, it does prevent spouses from obtaining spousal maintenance, and the court has no say in the division of a couple’s property. It also voids any marital agreements. For some couples, even if they qualify for a voidable annulment, a divorce may be a more fair and controlled alternative. If you are unsure of the ideal route to end your marriage, contact Stange Law Firm.