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How to Get an Annulment in Illinois

To get an annulment, also called a declaration of invalidity in Illinois, one of the following must be true:

  • A party was unable to consent to the marriage,
  • A party is unable to consummate the marriage,
  • A party was under 18 and didn’t have consent of their guardian, or
  • The marriage was prohibited by law in some way.

There is a lot of confusion surrounding annulments. To get a better understanding, read further on what an annulment is and who can actually get one.

Also, in Illinois’s laws, an annulment is called a declaration of invalidity of marriage. This is different from a divorce which is called a dissolution of marriage.

The Meaning of Annulment

An annulment is an uncommon method for ending a marriage. In an annulment, the court deems the marriage is invalid rather than dissolved. In more simple terms, this means that the marriage shouldn’t have ever happened and thus is terminated.

This is different from a standard divorce. In a standard divorce, the actual marriage is still valid, but it ends because it has broken down. With an annulment, the marriage is legally erased like it never happened.

Both of these also differ from a legal separation. In a legal separation, parties still remain married. They just become physically and financially separated.

Annulments are uncommon because you can only get them for specific reasons.

Reasons for an Annulment

The court outlines four reasons why a divorce can end. You can only get an annulment if:

  1. One of the parties getting married was unable to consent at the time of the marriage due to:
    • the influence of drugs or alcohol,
    • a mental incapacity or infirmity,
    • force or duress imposed by another party, or
    • fraud regarding an essential detail to the marriage.
  2. A party lacked the physical capacity to consummate the marriage through sexual intercourse. (And the other party did not know at the time of the marriage.)
  3. A party was under 18 and did not have the consent of their parent or guardian to get married.
  4. The marriage is prohibited by law due to reasons such as a party already being married or the parties being too close of relatives.[1]

There is nuance and variation within each of these reasons. To know whether you can get an annulment based on your situation, call Sterling Lawyers, LLC to set up a consultation today.

The grounds, or the minimum requirement, for an annulment is having one of the reasons listed above. To have grounds to get an annulment, you also need to be within the time limit to file.

Time Limits on Annulments

Each of the four reasons for annulment have different time limits on them:

  1. For the inability to consent, the limit is 90 days after finding out about the described condition.
  2. For the inability to consummate, the limit is one year after the marriage.
  3. For underaged marriages, the limit is until the underage party turns 18.
  4. For prohibited marriages, these depend on the reason but there usually isn’t a time limit other than no more than three years after a party dies.[2]

If a party wants an annulment for one of the first three reasons, they cannot get one if either party dies before they file for the annulment.

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

The Benefits of Annulment

Oftentimes, the process of an annulment is pretty close to the process of a divorce. However, there are some key differences that many see as benefits. The benefits of an annulment include:

  • A Simplified Division of PropertyProperty in a marriage is more likely to return to its original owner than it is to be split equally in an annulment.
  • Division of Debts – Similarly, debt accrued before the marriage will stay with that person and only debt gained during the marriage gets split.
  • No Alimony/Spousal SupportAlimony is much rarer in annulments in part because the marriages were usually short-term.
  • Invalid Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements – Because the marriage is invalid, so are any prenuptial or postnuptial agreements.

If you want an annulment, be sure to speak to a family law attorney as soon as possible. You don’t want to miss the window and not get these benefits.

Are you ready to move forward? Call (312) 757-8082 to schedule a strategy session with one of our attorneys.


What’s the Difference Between Religious Annulment and Legal Annulment?

A religious annulment is done through the church rather than the courts. This is important because some religions do not allow divorces.

In these situations, someone may be able to get a religious annulment but not a legal divorce. Different religions have different reasons someone can get an annulment.

How Do I File an Annulment Petition?

To get an annulment, you file the same paperwork that is filed for a divorce. The one difference is that you file a Petition of Invalidity of Marriage rather than Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. The necessary paperwork must be filed with your local clerk of courts.

Is Annulment Easier Than Divorce?

Annulment is not any easier than divorce. You still need to figure out all the same issues as property division and child custody.

Many people think annulments are easier than divorce. In truth, they are just easier because most annulments come from short-term marriages. Annulments are no easier than divorces from a short-term marriage.

Frequently Asked Questions

What qualifies you for an annulment in Illinois?

There are four things that qualify you for an annulment in Illinois:

  • A party was unable to consent at the time of the marriage,
  • A party is unable to consummate the marriage through sexual intercourse,
  • A party was under 18 and didn’t have consent of their parent or guardian, or
  • The marriage was prohibited by law.

Without one of these factors being present, the marriage cannot be annulled, only divorced or legally separated.

Is cheating grounds for annulment?

Cheating is not grounds for annulment in Illinois. Cheating can be grounds for divorce though because the only thing needed to get a divorce is for a party to say the marriage is irretrievably broken.
The only form of cheating that can be grounds for annulment is if one party is married to two people at once.

On what grounds can a marriage be annulled?

The grounds for annulment are the same as the factors listed above. In short, if there is a legal reason the marriage should have been prohibited, you are able to get an annulment.

How long do you have to get an annulment in Illinois?

The amount of time you have to get an annulment depends on the reason you are getting an annulment. The clock starts ticking once you find out about the reason or get married.
The limits are 90 days after learning of the situation, one year after the marriage, or until both parties are 18. In some cases where the marriage should not have happened, there isn’t a time limit on the case.

Why would an annulment be denied?

An annulment can be denied if it does not meet the requirements listed above. One of the reasons must be present in the situation, and you must file within the time frame for that specific reason.

Which is better annulment or divorce?

It depends on what you are looking for. If you want it to be as if you were never legally married, annulment is better. If you want the marriage to end and you want a better chance at alimony, divorce is probably the better option.

Do both parties have to agree to an annulment?

If one of the reasons for an annulment is present, you can get an annulment. In the end, both parties have to sign the final agreement on who gets what, but if they don’t, the court can decide for them.

References: 1. 750 ILCS § 5/301 (1-4). Declaration of Invalidity of Marriage. | 2. 750 ILCS § 5/302 (1-4).

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