If you live in the state of Florida and are thinking about ending your marriage, it's important to know about your options for doing so in the state. Aside from divorce, it's possible to dissolve your marriage by a civil annulment.
Not to be confused with an annulment that is performed by a religious institution, a civil annulment not only dissolves your marriage in the way that a divorce would. It also has the effect of "erasing" the marriage, as if it had never taken place.
Here is a brief summary of laws related to civil annulments and prohibited marriages in Florida.
Civil Annulments and Prohibited Marriages in Florida
Most states have their own specific annulment and prohibited marriage laws. Below are some of the details found in Florida's state statutes.
- Under Section 741.21, incestuous marriages are prohibited. In most states, incestuous marriages are defined as marriages between closely related family members.
- Under Section 741.211, common-law marriages entered into on or after January 1, 1968 are void. In a common-law marriage, in some jurisdictions, people are able to legally marry without obtaining a marriage license.
- Under Section 826.01, bigamy is prohibited. It is considered a crime. It is treated as a felony. Bigamy is defined as entering into a second marriage while already being legally married to another person.
|Grounds for Annulment
- A person can may seek a civil annulment if their marriage matches the description of any of the types of marriages listed above under "Prohibited Marriages." A person may do so under the common law of the state.
- A person may also seek a civil annulment for any of the following reasons:
- A person entered into a marriage without being able to consent due to a mental incapacity,
- A person entered into a marriage without being able to consent due to being under the influence of an intoxicating substance,
- One of the parties to the marriage was underage, and the consent of a parent or guardian was not obtained, and
- One of the two parties to the marriage obtained the consent of the other by fraud.
|Time Limits for Obtaining Annulment
||No law in Florida explicitly addresses time limits for obtaining a civil annulment.
|Legitimacy of Children
||Under the common law of the state, children born to marriages that are civilly annulled are still considered legitimate.
Same-Sex Marriage in Florida
While same-sex marriages used to be prohibited in the state of Florida, they no longer are.
Florida law did not recognize same-sex marriages at the state level until the Supreme Court's 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision. In 2008, Florida voters approved a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages and civil unions. Despite this state-wide prohibition, some cities, towns, and counties continued to recognize domestic partnerships and offer city- or county-wide partner benefits.
The Obergefell decision found state bans on same-sex marriage to be an unconstitutional violation of the 14th Amendment's equal protection rights. The refusal of states to recognize the lawful same-sex marriages of other states was similarly found unconstitutional. In the wake of the Obergefell case, all laws prohibiting same-sex marriage became unconstitutional and enforceable. For more information, consider reviewing FindLaw's same-sex marriage section and "State Same-Sex Marriage Laws: A Look Back."
Related Resources for Florida Civil Annulments and Prohibited Marriages
The decision to end a marriage can be a difficult one, especially if you are unsure whether or not your marriage was legal to begin with. If you would like legal assistance with your case, you can consult with an experienced Florida divorce attorney. You can also find more introductory information about this topic by visiting FindLaw's sections on annulment, divorce, and Florida family law.