Though it may seem simple, the legal proceedings surrounding marriage actually have strict rules. Each state has its own set of annulment and prohibited marriage laws that prohibit marriages under certain circumstances. A prohibited marriage is void because the marriage was never lawful. Generally, there's no need to get an annulment or divorce in these cases. Commonly prohibited marriages typically include bigamous marriages, where a person tries to marry more than one spouse, or incestuous marriages, where a person tries to marry a relative.
An annulment, on the other hand, is a way to void a marriage that would be otherwise invalid. While both an annulment and a divorce end a marriage, an annulment wipes the slate clean as if there was no marriage to begin with. However, you usually need to get an annulment within a certain time limit, so it is important to act promptly if you are considering an annulment.
This article provides a brief overview of annulment and prohibited marriages in the state of Hawaii.
Annulment and Prohibited Marriage Laws in Hawaii
The following chart highlights the main provisions of Hawaii's annulment and prohibited marriage laws. See FindLaw's Marriage Law Overview section for additional articles and resources.
|Grounds for Annulment
- The family court, by a decree of nullity, may declare void the marriage contract for any of the following causes, existing at the time of marriage: (1) the parties stood in relation to each other of ancestor and descendant of any degree whatsoever; (2) that either one of the parties had not attained the legal age of marriage; (3) that either of the parties had a living spouse; (4) that either of the parties lacked the mental capacity to consent to the marriage; (5) that the consent to the marriage of the party applying for annulment was obtained by force, duress, or fraud and there has been no subsequent cohabitation; and (6) that one of the parties was a sufferer of or afflicted with any loathsome disease and the fact was concealed from, and unknown to, the party applying for annulment (H.R.S. § 580-21)
- An action to annul a marriage on the ground that one of the parties was under the legal age may be brought by the parent or guardian entitled to the custody of the minor, or by any person admitted by the court to prosecute as the friend of the minor (H.R.S. § 580-22)
- The marriage of a person who lacked the mental capacity to consent to the marriage may be annulled on the application by either party or on the application of a guardian of the party who lacked such capacity (H.R.S. § 580-26)
- The action to annul the marriage on the ground of the physical incapacity of one of the parties at the time of marriage shall only be maintained by the injured party (H.R.S. § 580-28)
- No sentence of nullity of marriage shall be pronounced solely on the declarations or confessions of the parties; the court shall require other satisfactory evidence of the facts on which the nullity is founded (H.R.S. § 580-29)
|Time Limits for Obtaining Annulment
- For spouse still living: Anytime during either party's lifetime (H.R.S. § 580-21)
- Underage: Until they attain legal age and freely cohabit as a married couple (H.R.S. § 580-22)
- Physical incapacity: Within two years of marriage (H.R.S. § 580-28)
- Lack of mental capacity: Until mental capacity is attained and parties freely cohabit as a married couple (H.R.S. § 580-26)
|Legitimacy of Children
- Upon the annulment of a marriage on account of nonage, lack of mental capacity of either party to consent to the marriage, or of a marriage that is prohibited by consanguinity between the parties, children of the marriage will be considered legitimate (H.R.S. § 580-27)
- The children of such illegal marriage shall be entitled to succeed in the same manner as legitimate children, to all the real and personal estate of both parents (H.R.S. § 580-25)
||Under H.R.S. § 572-1, the following circumstances will invalidate a marriage contract:
- The respective parties are related to each other by ancestor and descendant of any degree whatsoever
- Either of the parties is under the age of 16, without the written approval of the family court of the circuit within which the minor resides, or any person 15 or under in any circumstance
- Either of the parties has a living spouse
- Consent of either of the parties has been obtained by force, duress, or fraud
- Either of the parties is afflicted with a loathsome disease concealed from, and unknown to, the other party
- The parties have not obtained a license for the purpose from the agent appointed to grant marriage licenses
||The U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) established that bans on same-sex marriage violated the Fourteenth Amendment's equal protection clause, legalizing same-sex marriage in every state, including Hawaii.
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Related Resources: Annulment and Prohibited Marriage Laws
Ending a marriage can be a difficult decision, especially if you are wondering if your marriage was legal to begin with. You can find more introductory information about this topic by visiting FindLaw's sections on annulment and divorce.
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Next Steps: Speak to a Family Law Attorney
If you are considering annulling your marriage or have questions regarding its legitimacy, you should speak to a local divorce attorney. An experienced attorney can view the specific facts of your separation and give legal advice using the relevant laws of your jurisdiction as guidance. Get started by speaking to a local family law attorney today.