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Annulment Attorney in Lake County & Cook County, Illinois

You’ve gotten yourself into a marriage for what turns out to be all the wrong reasons. Now, you want to know whether you can get an annulment or will have to go through the messy divorce process of dividing assets.

Annulment in Illinois is available only for a few specific cases of fraud, bigamy, physical incapacity, and other reasons. An annulment, once granted by a court, basically renders the marriage non-existent – it never happened. However, under Illinois law, the term “annulment” isn’t recognized anymore. Instead, to achieve the same result as an annulment, you must convince a court to grant you a “judgment of invalidity” for the marriage.

If you wish to pursue an annulment, or declaration of invalidity of your marriage, and you’re in or around Lake County and Cook County, Illinois, contact me at the Goldstein Law Office. I will meet with you, discuss the circumstances of your marriage, advise you if an annulment is possible, and then help you petition for one. I also proudly serve clients in neighboring communities such as Antioch, Deerfield, Highland Park, Lake Forest, North Chicago, and Waukegan.

What Is an Annulment?

Divorce is a way to end a marriage when it no longer becomes tenable because of irreconcilable differences or other reasons, including adultery, abandonment, impotence, and other factors. Divorce results in a dissolution of the marriage, with all the incumbent complications, including division of assets, child custody and support, spousal support, parenting time, and more.

An annulment, on the other hand, is a legal remedy to make the marriage disappear as if it never existed. Though divorce can be long, complicated, and emotionally draining, it Is actually a simpler process in Illinois than obtaining an annulment, or declaration of invalidity of your marriage.

Though the division of assets and other divorce considerations are still part of the annulment process, the general solution is to return everything to the status quo ante – in other words, assets returned to whoever held them before the marriage, along with restoration of other financial circumstances existing prior to the marriage.

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Grounds for Annulment in Illinois

Though there are 11 grounds for divorce in Illinois, annulment or a declaration of invalidity has only four. According to Illinois Law, the court can declare the invalidity of marriage under these instances:

  1. One party lacked the capacity to enter into marriage because of mental conditions or another infirmity, or due to the influence of alcohol or other mind-altering substances, or was induced, coerced, or defrauded into the marriage.

  2. One party lacked the physical capacity to consummate the marriage through sexual intercourse, and the other party was unaware of this fact.

  3. One party was underage, 16 or 17, and did not have the consent of his or her parents or guardian, or judicial approval.

  4. The marriage was prohibited because one party was already married or another factor.

Statute of Limitations for Filing for Annulment

The Illinois Code sets forth different time limits for petitioning for a judgment of invalidity:

  • If one spouse was coerced or forced into the marriage or did not consent, the statute of limitations for filing a petition for annulment is 90 days.

  • One spouse lacks the capacity for sexual intercourse and hid it from the other spouse: the statute of limitations is one year after discovering the problem.

  • One spouse is underage: you can file until the underage spouse turns 18. Parents can also file for annulment in the case of underage marriages.

  • The marriage is illegal: there is no time limit.

What if There Are Children Involved?

If during the time of marriage, the couple produces or adopts a child, Illinois law specifically says that "children born or adopted of a marriage declared invalid are the lawful children of the parties." Thus, much as in a divorce, decisions regarding custody, child support, and parenting time must be dealt with.

Generally, the court will treat the situation as if you were never married, and thus you'll need to go through separate proceedings under the Illinois Parentage Act of 1984 to get a judicial decision on custody.

The Benefits of Annulment

The primary benefit of an annulment over a divorce is that there usually are no court-ordered payments. In most cases, the two individuals return to life as they knew it before being married, and the marriage itself will be considered never to have occurred even when children are involved (see above).

When it comes to division of property, in most cases property will return to the pre-marriage owners. So will debt, but debt accumulated together will be split. If there were any prenuptial agreements, those will be rendered invalid.

Annulment Attorney Serving
Lake County & Cook County, IL

You may have an after-marriage case of “Oops, what did I just do?” but that won’t necessarily qualify you for an annulment. Getting a declaration of invalidity in Illinois requires more than just filing a petition. You must also provide the court with documentation supporting your reason for requesting an annulment. If you think you qualify for an annulment in or around Lake County or Cook County, Illinois, contact me at the Goldstein Law Office. I will review the circumstances with you and advise you of your legal options, and represent you if you end up filing a petition. Contact me today.