Annulment, Divorce, or Legal Separation FAQ
(provided by Ernest Walton, Esq.)
1. What is the difference between Annulments, Legal Separations, and Divorces?
Annulment: A Declaration of Invalidity of Marriage Petition seeks a judicial ruling that a valid
marriage never took place, that the marriage is not legally valid and that the marriage does not
Legal Separation: A Legal Separation Petition seeks a judicial ruling that one spouse should pay
another spouse child support or spousal maintenance, and distribution of property, without
seeking to dissolve the marriage.
Divorce: A Dissolution of Marriage Petition seeks a judicial ruling that severs or dissolves a
2. What are the grounds for an Annulment?
The grounds for an Annulment include the following:
a. Consanguinity: The parties are first cousins or closer.
c. Age: One party was under the age of legal consent.
d. Mental Incapacity: Due to intoxicating, narcotic substances or mental illness, one party was
incapable of comprehending the nature and consequence of the ceremony.
e. Fraud: Fraudulent representations and concealment of specific facts by one party that go to the
essence of the marriage;
f. Physical Incapacity: Sexual incapacity of one party that was unknown by the other party.
Fraudulent misrepresentation by the incapacitated party is unnecessary.
g. Duress: Factors such as age, mental attitude, physical power, and alleged applications by force
must be considered in determining whether one party was forced or coerced by the other party
Generally, one who continues to cohabitate, one who ratifies, and one who fails to bring a claim
for annulment within 90 days may not assert a claim for mental incapacity, fraud, physical
incapacity, or duress.
3. What are grounds for Legal Separation?
For Legal Separation, one need not establish grounds. One need only establish that the parties are
in fact living apart through no fault of the party who is filing for L