Marriage Annulment: Is There a Time Limit?

Marriage Annulment: Is There a Time Limit?


For two people to marry, the law states that it is necessary that they do so freely and make a conscious declaration.  If either of the two circumstances does not occur, it is impossible to create a legitimate marital bond. Similar to a divorce, an annulment terminates a marriage. The difference, however, is that an annulment takes a step further by declaring a marriage invalid or void, making it as if the marriage never happened.   To help clarify the difference, and see if your situation qualifies for an annulment, you need to consult with Garden City divorce attorneys, Fass & Greenberg, LLP. 

Who Can Request Marriage Annulment?

Unlike divorce or separation, marriage annulment can be requested by individuals  other than the spouses themselves. The following parties can request an annulment of a marriage if they have reason to believe the marriage is invalid:

  • Either spouse.
  • Anyone who has a legitimate and direct interest. For example, a Father or Mother who is aware of the marriage of a minor daughter.
  • The prosecutor’s office.

Grounds for an Annulment and Their Time Constraints

According to Domestic Relations Law § 140, New York recognizes six grounds for annulment as detailed below. Time constraints related to when you can file for an annulment vary depending upon what grounds you are requesting the annulment:

  • A spouse’s former husband or wife is still alive and that former marriage is still in force
    • An annulment action on this ground may be maintained at any time during the parties’ lifetime.
  • A spouse had not reached the age of consent at the time of the marriage
    • The ability to obtain an annulment on this ground expires if the spouses continue to freely live together after they both reach the age of consent.
  • A spouse was unable to consent to the marriage due to mental incapacity
    • Where the mentally ill person is not restored to sound mind, the court may allow an annulment action on this ground to be maintained at any time during the lifetime of both of the parties to the marriage.
  • A spouse is physically unable to have sexual intercourse
    • The physical incapacity must be continuing and incurable, and the action for annulment must be commenced within the first five years of the marriage.
  • A spouse obtained marriage consent by duress, coercion, or fraud
    • For the ground of fraud, the spouses can waive the ability to claim this ground if they continue to live together after becoming aware of the fraud. For the ground of duress, New York law does not allow the court to annul a marriage on this ground if at any time before the marriage, the spouses voluntarily lived together as a couple.
  • A spouse was incurably mentally ill for a period of five years or more
    • If the mentally ill spouse has a period of sound mind and the parties continues to cohabitate as a married couple, the court considers the marriage valid and waives the ability to obtain an annulment on that ground.

How a Lawyer Can Help

A lawyer can help guide you through the process. A lawyer will file a lawsuit before the court of the domicile of one of the spouses to declare the marriage null and void. As long as you contact an attorney within the specified time frame, a lawsuit can be filed on your behalf. Of all the Garden City divorce attorneys, Fass & Greenberg is a law firm that can help you resolve your marriage annulment.

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