How Do You Get an Annulment in Illinois?

In Illinois, an annulment is legally known as a “declaration of invalidity of marriage” and is only granted in specific circumstances. To get an annulment in Illinois, you have to prove a lack of consent, hiding impotency, one spouse being underage, or the marriage being illegal.

Unlike a divorce, an annulment makes it like the marriage never happened.

Annulment vs. Divorce

Pop culture has contributed a lot to the myth surrounding annulments. Many times, it’s portrayed as hitting the “undo” button on a marriage[1] entered into too quickly.

The reality is quite different. Annulments are primarily used when a marriage is entered into under false pretenses.

In Illinois, there are four reasons to grant an annulment (a.k.a. declaration of invalidity of marriage):

  • One spouse is incapable of having sexual intercourse and hid it at the time of the marriage.
  • One spouse was under 18 and didn’t have consent from a parent, legal guardian, or the court.
  • One spouse could not legally consent to marry because of:
    • The influence of alcohol or drugs
    • A mental disability
    • Fraud, coercion, or duress
  • The marriage was illegal.

A marriage is considered illegal if one spouse was still married to someone else and/or are closely related by blood.

Time Limits for Annulment in Illinois

The four different grounds for annulment in Illinois have different time limits. Most of the time limits are not from the time of the marriage, but instead from the time you learned about the problem.

One spouse could not consent or was coerced into the marriage
You can petition for an annulment within 90 days of learning about the problem.

One spouse is incapable of having sexual intercourse and hid it from the other
You can petition for an annulment within one year of finding out about the problem.

One spouse is underage
You can get an annulment before the underage spouse turns 18. Also, parents of a minor can apply for the annulment on their behalf.

The marriage is illegal
There is no time limit to annul a marriage that is found out to be illegal.

The Benefits of Annulment

When a marriage is rendered invalid, the court still needs to divide property, determine child custody,
and the many other items that would be done in a divorce.

However, in a divorce both parties consent to break off the marriage on the grounds of irreconcilable differences. This means that judges are more concerned with dividing property equitably and may consider things like alimony (spousal support).

Because an annulment invalidates the marriage and often involves victims who were coerced or misled, the court is more inclined to try and restore both parties to how they were before the marriage instead.

People who qualify for the strict grounds to invalidate a marriage in Illinois may benefit legally in several areas:

1. Simplified Division of Property
Property and assets are more likely to be given back to their rightful owner as they were before the marriage instead of being equitably split like in a normal divorce.

2. Shared Marital Debt
Debts accumulated before the marriage are split back to how they were before the marriage. Debt accumulated during the marriage is split.

3. Alimony/Spousal Support
In most cases, alimony and spousal support are not on the table for annulments. However, in cases of both annulment and divorce, child support and custody will have to be decided.

4. Invalidate Prenuptial Agreements
Because the marriage is considered invalid, you would be released from any terms of a prenuptial agreement. Pre or postnuptial agreements are only considered for a valid marriage.

5. Never Legally Married
Although it may not have a direct impact on you, after an annulment the state sees it like you were never married at all. It’s important to note that for religious annulments, you must consult your church or clergy.

For everything except hidden impotence, an annulment needs to be filed within 90 days of finding out about it. That does not mean within 90 days of the marriage itself.

Filing an Annulment Petition in IL

If you believe that you qualify for an annulment, you’ll need to file a Petition for Invalidity of Marriage. There is no specific form for this, but there are several sources online that can guide you through the process.

Generally, the petition needs to include the following:

  • Time, date, and location you were married
  • The date you and your spouse separated
  • What grounds you are seeking the annulment (coercion, illegal marriage, etc)

Annulments have very strict guidelines, so if you are in doubt about what you need specifically, get in contact with an experienced family lawyer.

For Immediate help with your family law case or answering any questions please call (312) 757-8082 now!

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do people get annulments instead of divorce?

An annulment makes it as if a marriage never happened. Many people get them for religious reasons, others get them because they wish they had never married the person. Annulments are rare though because there are strict rules of who can get an annulment. Many people ask for annulments but end up getting a standard divorce.

What are acceptable reasons for an annulment?

There are only a few specific reasons that a marriage can get annulled. All the reasons boil down to the marriage being illegal in some way. Someone can get an annulment if the other party was unable to consent to the marriage due to being under the influence of drugs, being underage, or being coerced into it. You can also get an annulment if the other person was already married to someone else.

What are the most common grounds for annulment?

The most common reason for an annulment is because someone was unable to give consent. This could be because at the time of the marriage they weren’t sober, were underage, or a few other things.

Is cheating grounds for annulment?

Cheating in a marriage, or adultery, is not grounds for an annulment in Illinois. But it is grounds for divorce, so if your spouse cheats, you can separate from them.

How is the annulment process?

The annulment process is very similar to the divorce process. You still go through all the key stages and still have to figure out all the key issues. You go through everything from property division to child custody.

Why would an annulment be denied?

Most people are denied an annulment because they don’t qualify for one. If you want an annulment because you want to separate from your spouse, that doesn’t warrant an annulment. You can only get an annulment in specific situations such as if you were unable to give consent at the time of the marriage.

What qualifies you for an annulment?

There are only a few things that qualify someone for an annulment. The one used the most often is that one party was unable to give consent at the time of the marriage. Another is that one party is unable to consummate the marriage.

References: [1]Invalidity of Marriage