Reasons for marriage annulments, although under the umbrella of the Catholic church can be separated into two basic classes. The first group, which is primarily followed by devout Catholics or those baptized in the church, is deviations against the church’s law.
The second cluster of means for marriage annulments, concerns all other impediments. This group applies to everyone in society (not just Catholics) and includes a hearing to be administered under specific state annulment laws. Although the two groups overlap, distinguishing them apart will make the guidelines for marriage annulments easier to understand.
The basis of Common law, in regards to marriages, focuses on the exchange of vows and the ceremony itself. If consummation, or fidelity are not upheld the marriage can be properly voided. Annulments don’t pertain to the inner-workings of the relationship or the happiness of those involved. Granted, a relationship can reach an annulment through a broken marriage, but the process was created to keep the sanctity of the union intact.
This belief can best be described through the physical violations that can warrant a marriage annulment. Although condemned by society, spousal abuse is not appropriate means for a marriage annulment. Although horrible, it does not jeopardize the sanctity of marriage. While violence is not considered a physical violation, perpetual impotence is. Both parties, must be physically capable of intercourse, so the goal of creation is possible. If one partner inhibits the process creating life, then grounds for marriage annulment are reached
Other reasons for marriage annulments under Common law include; disparity of cult – where a marriage between a Catholic and a non-baptized person is invalid, unless blessing or permission is given by a religious figure in the Church. A man under 16 years of age or a woman under 14 years of age would incur a voided marriage, and consanguinity, a specific form of incest which voids a marriage if the couple is related to the fourth collateral line (first cousins.) A few other reasons for marriage annulment exist under Common law but they are more outdated and less relevant to modern times.
Although civil law is similar to Common law, in terms of reasons for marriage annulments, there are a few basic differences. Insanity is a common impediment exclusively permitted by civil law. If an individual can prove he or she was insane before the marriage took place than grounds for a marriage annulment is achieved. Fraud is the most common ground in civil annulment trials. A drastic misrepresentation of character or deception at the time of marriage are grounds for fraud – i.e. a false identity, lying about one’s occupation, or extortion.
Also concealment is another modern reason for a marriage annulment. This includes, a spouse disguising such information as a criminal history, addiction to drugs or alcohol, sexually transmitted disease, and a child from a past relationship. Lastly, misunderstanding can also void a marriage contract. This simply means that an annulment can take place if one partner had no interest in having children and never revealed that sentiment before the marriage took place.
Before you marry, you must understand that it is not just a relationship but a contract between two people. With divorce rates rising above 50%, annulments are grossly misunderstood and overlooked in this country. Granted it has a lot of religious ties, but having knowledge of reasons to claim a marriage void is something that should not be ignored.