Sometimes, a marriage is not the right fit for the parties involved. Or, there could be a serious issue that clarifies that the marriage should not continue. If this discovery is made in time, couples can pursue a legal annulment of their marriage in Texas.
To be clear, you can only pursue an annulment under certain circumstances. It is different from a divorce, which is the dissolution of a more established marriage (e.g., the couple shares assets or has children through the marriage).
However, if the marriage relationship is recently established, then you should know more about the grounds for annulment in Texas. This will help you know whether there is an opportunity to annul – or void – the marriage.
Grounds for Annulment Outlined in the Texas Family Code
The Texas Family Code has dedicated a full section to the grounds for annulment. In Texas, a family court will need to adhere to the following requirements when considering your argument to annul the marriage.
1. Underage Marriage
A court can grant an annulment if one of the parties was over the age of 16 but under the age of 18 at the time of the marriage, and the marriage took place without parental consent or court order.
Who can file a petition to annul the marriage? A petition for annulment can be filed by a parent, a “next friend” acting on behalf of the underage party, or a managing conservator/ guardian. If the friend wishes to file a petition to annul the marriage on behalf of the underage party, the friend must file a petition within 90 days of the marriage.
The one caveat is that once a person turns 18, a petition cannot be filed with the court to annul the marriage. The Texas Family Code states that adulthood cancels out this reason for annulment.
2. Discretionary Annulment
A Texas court can issue an annulment to the marriage if one of the parties is underage. In other words, a court can initiate an annulment without a parent, friend, or conservator/guardian filing a petition.
According to the law, an annulment “may be granted at the discretion of the court sitting without a jury.” Furthermore, when the court exercises its discretion, a judge can “consider the pertinent facts concerning the welfare of the parties to the marriage, including whether the female is pregnant,” then decide whether to annul the marriage.
3. Under the Influence
A court has the ability to annul a marriage if one of the parties was under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or other narcotics at the time of the marriage.
The person who wishes to annul the marriage (the petitioner) must be able to prove that they “did not have the capacity to consent to the marriage” because they were under the influence at the time of the marriage.
However, the petitioner must also be able to prove that they have “not voluntarily cohabited with the other party to the marriage” in the time since they were under the influence of substances. For example, the petitioner cannot get married under the influence, live with the other person while in a sober state, and then decide at a later time that they would like to annul the marriage.
A court can grant an annulment on the grounds of impotency if one of the parties makes this discovery soon after entering into the marriage. The Texas Family Code outlines three conditions that must be met for a court to grant an annulment on the grounds of impotency:
- One party was permanently impotent at the time of the marriage (for either physical or mental reasons).
- The other party (the petitioner requesting the annulment) did not know of the other person’s impotency at the time of the marriage.
- Since making this discovery, the petitioner has not voluntarily cohabited with the other party.
5. Fraud, Duress, or Force
What often happens is that one party to a marriage discovers that the other person is not who they said they were before the marriage. Or, one party felt forced or pressured into entering into marriage before they were truly ready.
A court can grant an annulment if one party “used fraud, duress, or force to induce” the other party into marriage. The key is that the offended party (the petitioner) must have strong evidence to prove their argument that they were defrauded or forced against their will to enter into marriage.
There is one very important piece of evidence that a Texas court will look for. According to the Texas Family Code, the petitioner must show that they have “not voluntarily cohabited with the other party since learning of the fraud or since being released from the duress or force.” Otherwise, it signals to a court that the fraud, duress, or force was not strong enough to cause the petitioner to immediately exit the living arrangement.
6. Mental Incapacity
In Texas, one of the parties to a marriage, their parent, their guardian, or a “next friend” can file a petition to annul a marriage if the party was mentally incapacitated at the time of the marriage.
The Texas Family Code outlines two situations where a court can grant an annulment because of mental incapacity:
- One party in the marriage (e.g., the petitioner) did not have the mental capacity to consent to the marriage or understand the nature of the marriage ceremony because of a mental disease or defect. And, the petitioner has not voluntarily cohabited with the other party during a period when the petitioner possessed the mental capacity to recognize the marriage relationship.
- The other party did not have the mental capacity to consent to marriage or to understand the nature of the marriage ceremony at the time of the marriage because they had a mental disease or defect. And, the petitioner neither knew nor reasonably should have known of the mental disease or defect, plus the petitioner has not voluntarily cohabited with the other party in the time since they discovered or reasonably should have discovered the mental disease or defect.
7. Concealed Divorce
A court can grant an annulment if one party violated the legal requirements for re-marriage in Texas following a divorce. In Texas, a party must wait 30 days until they can officially re-marry. If the party did not wait this time before becoming re-married – or concealed a recent divorce from the new party before re-marrying – then the new marriage can be annulled.
According to Texas law, a court can grant an annulment of a marriage on the grounds of a concealed divorce if three conditions are met:
- One party was divorced from a third party within the 30-day period preceding the date of the marriage ceremony.
- The other party did not know about the divorce, “and a reasonably prudent person would not have known.”
- Since discovering the previous divorce, the other party has not voluntarily cohabited with the other party.
This grounds for divorce has a time restriction. A person cannot bring a suit before the court under this grounds for an annulment “after the first anniversary of the date of the marriage.”
8. Marriage Less Than 72 Hours After Issuance of License
A marriage can be annulled in Texas if the parties do not wait the appropriate amount of time to hold a marriage ceremony. In Texas, a marriage ceremony cannot take place less than 72 hours (or three full days) following the issuance of a marriage license.
This waiting period is designed to prevent fraud and to protect the parties being pressured or rushed into getting married. A court can annul – or void – the marriage if there is a violation.
However, this ground for annulment comes with a time restriction. A suit cannot be initiated after the 30th day following the date of the marriage.
9. Death of a Party to a Voidable Marriage
Things become complicated when there is a death at the time when a marriage could be annulled or voided (e.g., the parties are illegally married).
The Texas Family Code states that a marriage subject to annulment cannot be challenged in court after the death of one of the parties. This is to help avoid legal issues involving estates and probate proceedings.
Find Support With An Annulment in Texas
If you or someone you know needs support verifying ground for annulment in Texas, then you will want to work with a family law expert to petition the court for an annulment.
As a seasoned family law attorney, I can help file the appropriate petition in the county where the marriage was initiated, provide legal representation before a judge, and help navigate legal complexities on the path to annulling the marriage.
I currently help clients in Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, and Harris County with annulments. If you live in one of these counties, then get in touch with me to discuss the grounds for annulment in Texas.
Call my offices today at 281-944-5485 or 979-267-7660 to let me know the reasons for considering an annulment. I’m ready to help you or someone you know with the case.