Minor Law Divorce Lawyers | October 27, 2023 | Divorce
Getting a Marriage Annulled in South Carolina
Divorce is the most common way to end a marriage in South Carolina. The state allows for no-fault divorce, but it requires that the spouses live separately and apart for at least one year.
However, some marriages might qualify for an annulment as another way to end a marriage. An annulment might be preferred in some cases. Learn more about annulments and whether your marriage qualifies for an annulment from our South Carolina divorce attorney.
What Is the Difference Between an Annulment and a Divorce?
A divorce is the legal process of ending a marriage. An annulment nullifies or invalidates the marriage. It is as if the marriage never existed, so you can legally say you were never married after the annulment is granted.
A person may want an annulment because of religious beliefs or because they do not believe in divorce. However, they must have legal grounds for an annulment. They cannot seek an annulment merely because they do not want to go through a divorce or tell people they are divorced.
Grounds for Getting a Marriage Annulled in South Carolina
There is no specific time limit listed in South Carolina statutes for an annulment. As long as you can prove that the marriage was not legally valid, you can petition for an annulment regardless of how long you were married.
South Carolina requires you to prove a valid legal ground for annulment. You cannot merely ask that a marriage be voided because you do not want to admit you were married to this person or that you are divorced.
The grounds for an annulment in South Carolina include:
- A spouse committed fraud, such as lying or misrepresenting something integral to the marriage. For example, a spouse lied about their incurable impotence to get someone to marry them.
- The marriage was bigamous because one of the spouses is married to another person. A bigamous marriage is automatically legally invalid unless a spouse has been absent for at least five years and there is no evidence they are still living.
- A spouse was mentally incapable of consenting to entering a marriage.
- The marriage was incestuous because the spouses were closer than first cousins.
- The spouses never lived together after the marriage.
- One or both spouses were under 18 years old when they got married and did not have parental consent. Marriages of minors under 16 years old can be annulled.
If you are unsure whether your marriage qualifies for an annulment, it is best to seek legal advice from an experienced Rock Hill family law attorney. Petitioning the court without understanding the law could result in a waste of money and time.
How Do I Get a Marriage Annulled in South Carolina?
Either spouse can petition the court for an annulment. The spouse petitioning the court for the annulment is the plaintiff and must have been a state resident for at least one year. The other spouse is the defendant.
After filing the Complaint for Annulment with the court, you must serve your spouse with a copy of the complaint. Your spouse has a specific number of days to respond or answer the complaint.
The court sets a hearing. At the hearing, both parties have the opportunity to present evidence supporting their allegations. The judge makes a ruling based on the evidence.
If the judge denies the annulment, you can petition for a divorce. South Carolina divorces are granted for fault grounds of adultery, abandonment, physical cruelty, and habitual drunkenness. A no-fault divorce may be granted after the spouses are separated for at least one year.
What Are the Consequences of an Annulment in South Carolina?
Children born during the marriage are considered legitimate if at least one parent entered the marriage in good faith. Legitimacy allows the child to inherit from either parent. It also means that the child is entitled to financial support from both parents.
During an annulment, the court may treat the spouses’ property as separate assets. This property will generally be returned to the spouse who originally owned it. However, if the parties accumulated property jointly, the court may need to divide those assets equitably.
Annulments may not be as straightforward as people assume. The longer a couple is married, the more issues they must address if they annul their marriage.
Therefore, seeking legal advice from an experienced Rock Hill divorce lawyer is best. An attorney evaluates your situation to explain your legal options.
Contact an Experienced Divorce Attorney at Minor Law Divorce Lawyers for Legal Advice
To learn more and get the help you deserve, call our divorce & family law firm Minor Law Divorce Lawyers in Rock Hill, SC at (803) 504-0971 or contact us online today.
You can also visit our law firm at 1273 Ebenezer Rd, Suite B, Rock Hill, SC 29732.
We serve throughout York County.