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.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long can you be married and still get an annulment in Illinois?

There are different time limits for filing for an annulment in Illinois depending on the reason it’s filed. Most times, the time to petition to invalidate a marriage is not from the time of the marriage itself but from the time you found out about the problem. Usually, this limit is 90 days.

For a marriage to someone who is underage, the annulment can be filed until the minor turns 18. For illegal marriages, there is no time limit.

What are the qualifications for an annulment?

In Illinois, there are four grounds that qualify you to seek an annulment:

  • 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.

The court is unlikely to grant an annulment unless you have strong proof and are within the time limit.

Can a Parent Petition for an Annulment for Their Underage Child?

Yes. If your child got married under the age of 18 without your consent, then you could petition to invalidate their marriage. This petition must be filed before the child turns 18.

What happens if an annulment is denied?

The court is very strict about what grounds qualify for an annulment. In the vent the annulment is denied, you still have the option to end the marriage through the divorce process.

In all honesty, annulments can be difficult to prove. To be safe, it is best to consult an attorney before embarking down the arduous process of getting an annulment. In some cases, if you can’t substantially establish the grounds for an annulment, a divorce may be a better way forward in the long run.


References: [1]Invalidity of Marriage

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