Marriage annulment is a very specific process. It is not like a divorce, which ends a marriage.
In an annulment, the state invalidates the marriage, making it “null.” It erases the marriage from your record as if the union never existed. Because of what an annulment does, it requires very specific parameters.
In Iowa, the qualifications for a marriage annulment are:
- The union is somehow illegal.
- The spouses are closely related, as first cousins or closer.
- At the time of the marriage, either party was already legally married.
- At the time of the marriage, either party was ruled incapacitated, incapable of making the decision to marry.
- At the time of the marriage, either spouse was a minor and did not have parental or court permission to marry.
- At the time of the marriage, at least one party was incapable of performing sexually. Annulment assumes that the other party was unaware of this condition before the wedding.
Because of these rigid requirements, many annulments are denied. Even if your marriage falls into one of the above categories, technicalities could still lead to a denial.
Spouses have a responsibility to file for annulment promptly. For example, one may have already been legally married, but their legal spouse dies.
If the spouse seeking annulment remains in the marriage, living with their spouse after the death, the state assumes that they want to be in the marriage. To end a marriage in this situation, you would need a standard divorce.
Marriage of a Minor
If the minor lied about their age, it is their responsibility to annul the marriage. They must provide proof of their real age to do this.
Iowa also allows 16- and 17-year-olds to marry in limited situations. The minor could receive parental consent, validating the marriage. There are also rare scenarios where a court will allow someone this age to marry, even against parental protests.
How to Annul Your Marriage in Iowa
Annulling your marriage requires a Petition for Annulment. This part works like a divorce. You file in the district court that corresponds to your resident county, and you must have been an Iowa resident for at least one year.
The petition contains all the standard information, such as the date of the marriage, the names of the spouses, and so on. It also requires that the petitioner state the reason for the annulment.
The other spouse, the “respondent” will be sent the notice of annulment, and both parties will appear for a hearing before the judge.
This is where the process diverts from standard divorce. The petitioner must prove that the marriage was invalid. They can present evidence, witnesses, and so forth. The respondent can refute these claims, presenting their own evidence.
An attorney’s help will be crucial for this part. They can help you build a strong case for annulment. Your spouse may be reluctant to agree, meaning your lawyer must both prove your case and disprove your opponent’s.
The Law Offices of Mark R. Hinshaw, PLC can help you build a strong case for annulment. We can investigate the history of the marriage a may be able to uncover proof of its invalidity. If you need help, contact us online or call us at (515) 200-7571.