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WI family lawyerTelevision and movies often show married couples getting their marriage annulled after a last-minute decision to marry. While it is often depicted as a quick fix for spouses who regret getting married, it is actually quite difficult to get an annulment in Wisconsin. Many people misunderstand the purpose of annulling a marriage. They assume that an annulment is equivalent to a fast-tracked divorce. However, annulment is only possible under a narrow range of circumstances.

What is the Difference Between an Annulment and a Divorce?

Annulment and divorce are two very different legal processes. Divorce terminates a marriage. Annulment deems a marriage “invalid.” A marriage that has been annulled is considered to have never taken place. Another issue that confuses the subject is that many people mistake religious annulment for civil annulment or legal annulment. In some religions, a marriage may be annulled in the eyes of the church if the marriage did not meet the standards required by that particular faith. However, a marriage that has been annulled through the church may not necessarily meet the criteria for legal annulment.

Criteria for Annulment in Wisconsin

Wisconsin only grants annulments under certain conditions. The grounds for annulment in Wisconsin include:

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Wisconsin divorce lawyerEnding a marriage is a big step for any couple, but this is especially true for couples who have been together for years. Even if you know that your marriage is not working and that neither of you is particularly happy, you may not be ready to officially divorce. Perhaps, for financial reasons, you cannot afford to divorce your spouse, but you know you cannot stay married either. Or maybe, unbeknownst to you, your spouse was actually married to another person when you got married to him or her. In situations such as these, it may be worth looking into other options for your marriage. Wisconsin recognizes three separate actions for dealing with legal marital issues: annulment, legal separation, and divorce. Although they are fairly similar, they do have separate requirements and outcomes. 

Annulment

If you have your marriage annulled, you are asking to have your marriage legally erased, as if it never happened. Annulment is a process that is only done in very limited circumstances. To get an annulment, you must meet at least one requirement outlined in Wisconsin’s laws. Grounds that qualify for annulment include:

  • You or your spouse lacked the capacity to consent to the marriage as a result of mental illness, intellectual disability, drug or alcohol use, or through the use of force or duress.

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