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Kentucky Annulment and Prohibited Marriage Laws

Though it seems simple, the legal proceedings surrounding marriage actually have strict rules, with each state having 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 otherwise be 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 this option.

This article provides a brief overview of annulment and prohibited marriages in the state of Kentucky.

Annulment and Prohibited Marriage Laws in Kentucky

The following table explains the main Kentucky annulment and prohibited marriage laws.

Grounds for Annulment

Under K.R.S. § 403.120, a court shall under its decree declaring the invalidity of the marriage under any of the following circumstances:

  • A party lacks the capacity to consent to the marriage at the time it was solemnized, either because of mental incapacity or deformity or because of the influence of alcohol, drugs, or other incapacitating substances, or a party was induced to enter a marriage by force or duress, or by fraud involving the essentials of marriage
  • A party lacks the physical capacity to consummate the marriage by sexual intercourse, and the other party did not at the time the marriage was solemnized know of the incapacity
  • The marriage is prohibited (see below)
Time Limits for Obtaining Annulment

Under K.R.S. § 403-120, each type of annulment must be completed within a certain time period, as listed below:

  • Underage marriages must be annulled before cohabitation after the 18th birthday
  • For no consent (force, fraud, etc.) or physical incapacity within 90 days of discovering the fraud or impotence
  • Prohibited marriages must be annulled no later than one year after discovering the condition that makes the marriage prohibited and void
Legitimacy of Children Under K.R.S. § 391.100, the issue of an all-illegal or void marriage is considered as if born in lawful wedlock.
Prohibited Marriages

Under K.R.S. § 402.010 and 402.020, marriages are prohibited and void in the following circumstances:

  • When the parties are nearer of kin to each other by blood, whether whole or half blood, than second cousins
  • When a party has been adjudged mentally disabled by a court of competent jurisdiction
  • When a party has a living spouse, from whom the person marrying has not been divorced
  • When a marriage involves more than two people
  • When a person who at the time of marriage is under 18 years of age
Same-Sex Marriage

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 Kentucky. While Kentucky does have statutes still on the books, they are unenforceable due to Obergefell.

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.

Research the Law

Related Resources: Kentucky Annulment and Prohibited Marriage Laws

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 case and give you legal advice using the relevant laws of your jurisdiction.

Get started by speaking to a local family law attorney today.

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