What Are The Qualifications For Annulment In Wisconsin?
To be eligible for an annulment, you'll have to prove that your marriage was “invalid” to have it dissolved. Grounds for annulment in Wisconsin include fraud, bigamy, coercion, impotence, mentally incapable, or being underage without proper consent. Rather than being divorced, your marriage will not have legally existed in the first place.
Annulment VS Divorce
While either an annulment or a divorce will effectively end a marriage, annulments provide some advantages in cases where one party may have entered the marriage under false pretenses. In Wisconsin, the ground for annulment include:
- Fraud–one party didn't tell the truth about an “essential fact” that would have prevented the marriage had the other party known
- Underage–one of the parties was too young to legally marry in Wisconsin. This is generally under 18, unless the underage party had parental consent. A parent/guardian can also file for annulment on behalf of an underage spouse
- Coercion–one party was forced or threatened into marriage
- Bigamy–one party is still married to someone else, or has a living spouse
- Remarriage within six months of a previous divorce
- Impotence–one party is incapable of sexual intercourse
- Mental incapacity–one party was impaired, and did not have the ability to understand getting marriage (including intoxication)
The Benefits of Annulment
Unlike a no-fault divorce, where the marriage is considered irretrievably broken and both parties share the blame equally, annulments can provide victims of unlawful marriages certain legal advantages to help them start over:
- Simplified Division of Property
- Property and debts will likely be assigned to the rightful owner, as it was before the marriage, rather than distributed evenly.
- Shared Marital Debt
- Any debts accumulated during the marriage, are split evenly.
- Invalidate a Prenuptial Agreements
- An annulment can release you from the terms of your prenuptial agreement. Prenuptial agreements only apply to couples who are divorcing, or in some cases, spouses that are legally separating.
- No waiting period for remarriage
- If a marriage is invalidated, both parties will be able to remarry without adhering to Wisconsin's 6 month waiting period for remarriage after a divorce.
- Never legally Married
- Although it's mostly semantic, an annulled marriage is the legal equivalent of “never married”, which for many people is an important distinction for both personal and religious reasons.
An annulment must be filed for within one year of the marriage date. However if an underage spouse had the correct consent, he or she cannot file for annulment later due to being underage, or after the spouse turns 18.
Although your marriage will be nullified, meaning that legally, it never existed, a judge can still order the same stipulations that would appear in a normal divorce proceeding when necessary: child support, visitation and custody (if applicable), alimony and property division.
Children from an annulled marriage are still considered legitimate, can inherit from and are entitled to support from both parents.
Filing an Annulment Petition in WI
You must live in Wisconsin for at least 30 days, and file in the circuit court where either you or your spouse live. If you are filing, you are the “petitioner,” and your spouse is the “respondent.”
Your filling should contain the full names and addresses of both you and your spouse, as well as occupations and dates of birth. Include the names and dates of birth of any children. You'll also include your grounds and reasoning for requesting to have your marriage annulled.
Like a divorce filing, you can also ask in your petition for things you would like the judge to decide and order. This includes child support, custody and visitation, alimony, and property division. Then file your petition with the proper clerk of court's office, and make sure to have an extra copy to serve to your spouse.
The circuit court will then hold a hearing to decide if your marriage is eligible for annulment. Witnesses and evidence will help prove your case and help the judge decide.
If you are awarded an annulment, the judge will then sign an order, and will then move onto deciding the rest of the issues listed in your petition.