Let’s say you return from Las Vegas, where 80,738 marriage licenses were issued in 2014, and you just aren’t feeling it anymore. You’ve realized the person you married just a short time ago just isn’t for you. You may think to yourself that I don’t need to get a divorce, because we just got married a few days ago. In order to avoid the Big-D, you decide you’ll just get the marriage annulled. I mean surely you can get an annulment when you made such a recent mistake…right? Unfortunately, you are likely wrong and you’ll end up having to get divorced.
In North Dakota, there are limited grounds for annulling a marriage and unfortunately, there is no provision allowing a marriage to be annulled if you claim it was a mistake. North Dakota Century Code Section 14-14-01 lists the reasons a marriage can be annulled, while North Dakota Century Code Section 14-04-02 lists the period of time in which you can request an annulment.
• If you were under the age of 18 (because that is the lawful age for marriage in North Dakota), and got married, or if consent was required and consent was not obtained prior to the marriage, you can move to have the marriage annulled. However, if the party, after attaining legal age, freely cohabitated with the other as husband or wife, then they would not be able to move for an annulment.
· Under this provision, the party has to move for an annulment within four years of arriving at the age of consent and the party’s parents or guardian must move for an annulment before the party has turned the legal age of consent. In some situations, your parents can move for an annulment of your marriage. I’m not sure there would be a clearer sign that they dislike your spouse.
• You can also get an annulment if you marry some dirt bag, who later happens to be legally married to another person, who is still very much alive.
· In addition to either party having the ability to move for an annulment, the former spouse of the dirt bag can also move for an annulment of the marriage, as long as it is done during the life of the parties that married. Your marriage could be ended by your spouse’s current spouse, talk about awkward.
• If either party was not of sound mind when they were married, then you can move for an annulment. However, if you became of sound mind and freely cohabitated as husband and wife you are out of luck.
· The person of unsound mind, or a relative or guardian of the person of unsound mind can move for the annulment, at any time before the death of either party.
• You meet Mr./Ms. Rich and you get married. You’ve hit the jackpot, or so you think. Let’s say they are actually dead broke and were looking to marry you for their own financial gain, so basically you agreed to marry them because of their deceptive statements. Now, you could be considered a gold digger, because you intended to do nothing but attain wealth by agreeing to marry Mr./Ms. Rich, but lucky for you their deceptive statements may also constitute fraud. If your consent was obtained by fraud you can move for an annulment, unless you have full knowledge of the facts making up the fraud and freely cohabitated with the other person.
· Once you discover the facts constituting the fraud, then you have four years to move for an annulment.
• Let’s say your consent was obtained by force, then you may be able to get a divorce, unless you freely cohabitated with the other person as husband or wife. Basically, if you are forced to marry someone don’t then freely stick around and ask for an annulment.
· Get out, because you only have four years after the marriage.
• If at the time of your marriage you were not physically capable of entering into the marriage, then you can move for an annulment; however, the physical incapacity must continue and appear to be incurable.
· An annulment may only be requested by the party who is injured and it must be requested within four years after the marriage.
• Lastly, if the marriage itself was incestuous you can request it be annulled.
· There is no statute of limitations for requesting an annulment based upon incestuous marriages.
The bottom line is that the ability to move for an annulment in North Dakota is limited, and more than likely you will find yourself needing to file for divorce. So before you marry someone you shouldn’t, because you find yourself distracted by the lights of Las Vegas, the sounds of those slot machines, or the beautiful site of the Bellagio Fountain take a moment to think about the situation, because getting out of what you think is a “mistake” may not be that quick and easy when you get back to North Dakota.
If you find yourself questioning whether or not you can move for an annulment or need a divorce, please give us a call. There are two of us at SW&L who handle exclusively family law cases, including annulments and divorces. If you have a family law issue that you would like to discuss, please do not hesitate to call 701-297-2890 and ask for Jeni or Greg or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or Greg at email@example.com.