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Virginia Annulment and Prohibited Marriage Laws

Annulment is different than divorce, in that it essentially "erases" a marriage that either by law or by choice should not have occurred. For example, anyone who enters into marriage out of fraud may have that marriage annulled without having to go through divorce court. Similarly, someone whose partner is impotent also has the right to an annulment. States also prohibit some unions, such same-sex marriage and marriage between close relatives.

Virginia Annulment and Prohibited Marriage Laws

According to Virginia's annulment and prohibited marriage laws, marriage between half- or whole-blood relatives (such as siblings or first cousins) is strictly prohibited. The state also prohibits marriage if one of the parties is still married to someone else. A federal judge struck down the state's ban on gay marriage in 2014, and gay marriage became legal in Virginia after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of the ruling. A subsequent Supreme Court ruling, 2015's Obergefell v. Hodges decision, also found that state bans on same-sex marriages are unconstitutional.

How to Get an Annulment in Virginia

In order to annul a marriage, you will have to file a Complaint for Annulment in the county where you or your spouse lives. Annulments also require at least six months residency in the state. This complaint will be served on the other spouse (the defendant in the case), and the judge will hold a hearing to determine the validity of your claim.

Learn more about Virginia annulment and prohibited marriage laws in the section below. See FindLaw's Marriage Law Overview section for additional information.

Code Sections 20-38.1; 20-43; 20-45.1, 2; 20-89.1; §20-31.1
Grounds for Annulment Mentally incapacitated; fraud; duress; impotency; if without other's knowledge: either convicted of felony before marriage; if without other's knowledge: wife pregnant by another man, husband fathered another child born within 10 months after marriage; either had been a prostitute; no annulment allowed for fraud, duress, mental incapacity, felony, pregnancy or fathering if parties cohabited after knowledge
Time Limits for Obtaining Annulment All actions must be brought within 2 yrs. of marriage
Legitimacy of Children Children of prohibited marriages are legitimate
Prohibited Marriages Previous marriage undissolved; between ancestor and descendant, brother and sister, uncle and niece, aunt and nephew (half or whole blood); bigamous; parties under 18 and have not complied with consent provisions

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- contact a Virginia family law attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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Virginia Annulment and Prohibited Marriage Laws: Related Resources

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