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Vermont Annulment and Prohibited Marriage Laws

Although it may seem simple, the legal proceedings surrounding marriage actually have strict rules. Each state has its own set of laws that relate to civil annulments and prohibited marriages. A prohibited marriage is void because the marriage was never legally valid to begin with. Commonly prohibited marriage types include both bigamous and incestuous marriages. In bigamous marriages, a person tries to marry more than one spouse. In incestuous marriages, a person tries to marry a closely related family member.

civil annulment is a way to void a marriage. While both an annulment and a divorce end a marriage, an annulment wipes the slate clean as if there had been no marriage to begin with. By law, you usually need to get an annulment within a certain amount of time. So, it's important to know the laws and act promptly if you are considering annulling your marriage.

This article provides a brief overview of laws related to civil annulments and prohibited marriages in Vermont.

Vermont Annulment and Prohibited Marriage Laws

The basics of Vermont's annulment and prohibited marriage laws are listed in the following chart. See FindLaw's Marriage Law Overview section for additional articles.

Grounds for Annulment

  • Civil marriages may be annulled when, at the time of marriage, either party had not attained the age of 16 years or was physically or mentally incapable of entering into a civil marriage state or when the consent of either party was obtained by force or fraud (15 V.S.A. § 512)
  • A complaint to annul a civil marriage if one of the parties was under the age of 16 may be brought by the parent or guardian entitled to the custody of such minor or by a person admitted by the court to prosecute the same as the next friend of the minor; however, such marriage shall not be annulled on the complaint of a party of legal age at the time it was contracted if the parties, after they attained the age of consent, freely cohabited as spouses (15 V.S.A. § 513)

Time Limits for Obtaining Annulment

  • Underage: Until parties obtain legal age and cohabit (15 V.S.A. § 513)
  • Idiocy: Anytime during their life (unless restored to reason and cohabit) (15 V.S.A. § 514)
  • Physical incapacity: Two years from marriage (15 V.S.A. § 515)
  • Consent by force or fraud: Anytime unless parties before commencement of action voluntarily cohabit (15 V.S.A. § 516)

Legitimacy of Children

The children of a civil marriage that is annulled are legitimate and shall succeed to the real and personal estate of both parents (15 V.S.A. § 520)

Prohibited Marriages

  • The following persons are not authorized to marry, and a town clerk shall not knowingly issue a civil marriage license, when: either a party is a person who hasn't attained the age of majority unless the town clerk received the written consent of one of the parents or guardians of the minor; either party is under the age of 16; either party is under guardianship, without the written consent of the party's guardian; either of the parties is mentally incapable of entering into a marriage; the parties are prohibited from marrying on account of consanguinity or affinity, and either of the parties has a wife or husband living (18 V.S.A. § 5142)
  • No person shall marry their parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, sibling, sibling's child, or parent's sibling (15 V.S.A. § 1a)
  • Civil marriages contracted while either party is legally married or joined in a civil union to a living person other than the party to that marriage shall be void (15 V.S.A. § 4)

Same-Sex Marriages

  • The U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) established that bans on same-sex marriages in any state violate the Fourteenth Amendment's equal protection clause. With this ruling, same-sex marriages were legalized.
  • On December 13, 2022, President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. also signed into law the Respect for Marriage Act, which codified laws related to protections for same-sex marriage.

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

Vermont Annulment and Prohibited Marriage Laws: Related Resources

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 family law 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 receiving a consultation from a Vermont divorce attorney today.

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