• Annulment and No-fault Divorce

    annulmentOne option that may be available to some people is annulment. This option will not be available to everyone. An annulment is a determination that the conventional relationship of a marriage had not been established despite a marriage ceremony. After an annulment, the marriage is considered null and void and no rights can ever flow from the marriage. Some examples of when an annulment will be granted are when the marriage was entered into under conditions of fraud or duress, or when one of the parties to the marriage was not of legal age. When one of the parties to the marriage was under the legal age, the marriage is voidable, but may become valid when that person attains legal age.

    In addition to an annulment or fault-based divorce, a no-fault divorce may be available. Every state has some sort of no-fault statute that allows a married couple to get divorced with a no-fault divorce. Some of these states allow only a no-fault divorce, and most states allow the parties to choose whether they want to pursue a fault-based or no-fault divorce. For a couple to successfully receive a no-fault divorce, a couple must typically meet two requirements: (1) the marriage is irretrievably broken, and (2) the couple has been separated for the requisite period of time. Some jurisdictions might require conciliation, or counseling.

    For a marriage to suffer irretrievable breakdown, a court must decide that there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation. Also, the parties must be separated. To be separated, the parties must live separate and apart. Living separate and apart does not necessarily mean having separate residences. As long as the parties live separate lives, meaning no marital relations, separate meals, separate bedrooms, separate vacations, and separate finances. This is not an exhaustive list; these are only factors that a court might look at to determine whether two people are separated in order to fulfill the requisite period of separation.

    The Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act (UMDA) was put together by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws to attempt to make marriage and divorce laws more uniform from state to state. Under the UMDA no-fault divorce statute, the parties must have lived in the state in which they are seeking divorce for ninety (90) days, the marriage must be irretrievably broken, and there must be a legal separation. In order for the marriage to be irretrievably broken, the parties must have been separated for six (6) months, and there must be serious marital discord. Also, if both parties agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the court will find irretrievable breakdown. However, if one party denies that there is an irretrievable breakdown, the court will either make a finding of irretrievable breakdown, or will continue the case, without making a finding, for a hearing in the future to determine whether the marriage is irretrievably broken. Also, during that time, the court may suggest counseling, or order a conciliation conference, where the parties must meet with a counselor and the counselor will assist the judge in determining whether an irretrievable breakdown exists. The purpose of the time delay and the conciliation conference in the divorce process is because courts would rather see the couple reconcile and get back together rather than go through with the divorce.
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