Jackson County Circuit Court at Kansas CityCan I get an Annulment instead of a divorce? - An annulment is very different from a divorce.  An annulment is a judgment declaring that a marriage never existed while a divorce is a decree ending a valid marriage.

An annulment has nothing to do with the length of the marriage, or whether a couple "consummated" their relationship.  If you've changed your mind because the honeymoon didn't go as expected, you'll still need a plain old divorce.  There are three grounds for an annulment:  incapacity, bigamy and fraud.

Incapacity relates to whether an individual may legally contract marriage.  Within Missouri a person must be 18 in order to marry.  They also may not be under order of a legal guardianship.

Bigamy means that an individual is already married to another person.  This most commonly happens when a person remarries before a divorce becomes final.  It's probably more prevalent than realized.

The first two grounds are easy and straightforward.  Fraud is much more difficult and in practical terms virtually impossible to prove.  One thing for certain, an annulment is not available for claims of wealth, power or prestige.  Buyer beware!  Do your homework in advance.  You can discuss the question with your attorney, but don't expect miracles.

While an Annulment may sound attractive, in fact it may have very unexpected outcomes.  If there is no marriage, then the divorce laws don't apply.  There are very different procedures, and they are not designed for people who have lived as husband and wife.

Finally, bear in mind that if you seek an Annulment for religious purposes, civil courts have no authority over ecclesiastic bodies.  An Annulment from the Circuit Court may carry no weight at all within your religion.

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