Marriage annulment in Oregon is something that divorce lawyers get questioned about all the time while rarely encountering a circumstance where marriage annulment is appropriate. Common situational questions include:
I’ve only been married 2 months – can I get it annulled?
My spouse only married me to get citizenship. How do I annul my marriage?
It turns out my husband only married me for my money. I want to annul my marriage. Can I?
I need to annul my marriage because my spouse has been cheating on me since before the wedding!
While all of the above are undoubtedly unfortunate situations, none are grounds for a marriage annulment. In fact, there are very few circumstances – rare circumstances – where an annulment is actually a viable option.
The set of circumstances where marriages may be voided is where the marriage was prohibited by law in the first place. This includes a marriage when one party was already married to another person (bigamy or polygamy), or where the marriage is to a with a familial relationship closer than first cousin by blood. These marriages are said to be “void” from the outset, meaning that they are simply invalid. There is no court order necessary to void this type of “marriage” because it was never a legal marriage to begin with.
ORS § 106.020 – Prohibited and void marriages
The following marriages are prohibited; and, if solemnized within this state, are absolutely void:
(1) When either party thereto had a wife or husband living at the time of such marriage.
(2) When the parties thereto are first cousins or any nearer of kin to each other, whether of the whole or half blood, whether by blood or adoption, computing by the rules of the civil law, except that when the parties are first cousins by adoption only, the marriage is not prohibited or void.
A second set of circumstances can arise where the marriage may be considered valid, but may be “voidable” (anulled) upon motion to the court. This includes circumstances where one or both parties were under the age of consent for purposes of a legal contract (under age 18), or where the marriage was obtained by force or fraud.
ORS § 106.030 – Voidable Marriages
When either party to a marriage is incapable of making such contract or consenting thereto for want of legal age or sufficient understanding, or when the consent of either party is obtained by force or fraud, such marriage shall be void from the time it is so declared by judgment of a court having jurisdiction thereof.
Unlike a void marriage, a voidable marriage requires a party to ask the court to annul the marriage based upon the alleged fraud, force, or circumstance which waived consent. This will result in a hearing whereby a judge will hear evidence to determine whether the statutory requirements of ORS 106.030 have been met. Improper motive for a marriage, infidelity, or short-term marriages are generally do not form a basis for an annulment.
Regardless of whether an annulment is legally permissible, a divorce is always obtainable. Oregon is a no-fault state, meaning that a reason for divorce does not need to be proved to the court. Contact one of our skilled Oregon divorce lawyers to discuss your options.