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Tennessee Annulment and Prohibited Marriage Laws

If your Volunteer State romance is starting to wear you down, you might be wondering what your legal options might be for ending your marriage. And distinguishing between a legal separation from a divorce and a summary dissolution from an annulment is enough to make you dizzy -- especially because each of these legal proceedings has strict regulations determining the circumstances it covers and to whom it applies. This is a quick introduction to one of those procedures: annulment and prohibited marriage laws in Tennessee.

Annulments and Prohibited Marriages

Marriages all have a romantic quality to them, but along with being fairytales marriages are strictly controlled by government rules and regulations. Each state enforces its own annulment and prohibited marriage laws which control who can get married and how, and even disallow marriage entirely in certain situations. Tennessee laws, for example, do not recognize same sex marriages.

Annulment Laws in Tennessee

Tennessee’s annulment and prohibited marriage laws are highlighted in the chart below.

Code Sections

36-3-101 102; 36-4-125; 36-3-113

Grounds for Annulment

Previous marriage (unless absent for 5 yrs. and not known to be living)

Time Limits for Obtaining Annulment


Legitimacy of Children

Annulment shall not affect the legitimacy of children

Prohibited Marriages

Between ancestor and descendant, brother and sister, uncle and niece, aunt and nephew, bigamous

Same-Sex Marriage in Tennessee

Tennessee law did not recognize same-sex marriages. While some cities and counties instituted domestic partnership benefits and made them available to same-sex couples, the state’s 2004 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage prevented any other recognition of same-sex unions. Although the amendment survived one state lawsuit in August 2014 a federal lawsuit also challenged the ban.

Ultimately, the Supreme Court's ruling in 2015's Obergefell v. Hodges appears to have resolved the matter. The Court held that state bans on same-sex marriage and the refusal to acknowledge the legitimate same-sex marriages of other states constituted violations of the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection guarantees. As such Tennessee, and every other holdout state, must now permit same-sex marriage.

As you can see, the state of same-sex marriage nationwide, and especially in Tennessee, remains hotly contested. For the latest legal developments, you can visit FindLaw’s Same-Sex Marriage section and view a list of states that allow same-sex marriage.

Related Resources for Tennessee Annulment and Prohibited Marriage Laws

Deciding to end a marriage (or wondering whether or not your marriage was legal to begin with) is never a simple choice. For more information and resources regarding this topic, you can visit FindLaw’s sections on Annulment, Divorce, and Tennessee Family Law. You can also contact an experienced Tennessee divorce attorney if you would like legal assistance with a marriage or divorce matter.

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