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Virginia Annulment and Prohibited Marriage Laws

Civil annulment is different than divorce. Such annulments essentially "erase" a marriage as if it never existed. In such an annulment, a court rules on the legal validity of that marriage. If a court finds that the marriage is legally invalid, that court is saying that by law that marriage should never have occurred. For example, anyone who enters into marriage as a result 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 as marriages between close relatives.

Civil Annulments and Prohibited Marriages in Virginia

According to Virginia's laws related to civil annulments and prohibited marriages, closely related family members are prohibited from marrying one another. Examples of closely related family members are half- or whole-blood relatives, including siblings and first cousins. The state also prohibits marriage if one of the parties is still married to someone else. However, a federal judge struck down the state's ban on gay marriage in 2014. Gay marriage became legal in Virginia after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of the ruling. A subsequent U.S. Supreme Court ruling, 2015's Obergefell v. Hodges decision, also found that state bans on same-sex marriages are unconstitutional.

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

Grounds for Annulment

Under relevant state laws (§ 20-89.1§ 20-43§ 20-45.1), the following types of marriage are considered legally invalid and qualify annulments:
  • A spouse is mentally incapacitated
  • The marriage was entered into by fraud or under duress
  • A spouse is impotent
  • If without one spouse's knowledge at the time of the marriage, the other spouse has a felony conviction in their criminal history
  • If without one spouse's knowledge, the other spouse has conceived a child as a consequence of a sexual relationship with someone outside of the marriage
  • Either has been a prostitute
  • If the marriage is bigamous
However, regardless of these reasons, no annulment will be allowed if the spouse's lived together after discovering any of these reasons.
  • Under § 20-48, a marriage is legally invalid if a spouse was under the age of consent (18), and the consent of a parent or guardian was not obtained.

Time Limits for Obtaining Annulment

All actions must be brought within two years of the marriage.

Legitimacy of Children

Under § 20-31.1, children that are born to marriages that are legally invalid or annulled are considered legitimate.

Prohibited Marriages

Under § 20-38.1, the following types of marriages are prohibited:
  • Previous undissolved marriage
  • Marriage between closely related family members
  • Bigamous marriages
  • Parties are under the age of consent (18), and the consent of a parent or guardian has not been obtained

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

Research the Law

  • Consider reviewing the following resources for more information about laws in Virginia, including those related to civil annulments and prohibited marriages.
  • At Virginia Law, you'll find links to all laws in the state, including those related to civil annulments and prohibited marriages.
  • At Official State Codes, you'll find links to the official online statutes (laws) in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Virginia Annulment and Prohibited Marriage Laws: Related Resources

Consider reviewing the following resources for more information related to laws and legal issues concerning civil annulments, prohibited marriages, and marriage in general:

Need More Help? Contact an Attorney Today

If you're considering an annulment or your marriage is legally invalid, you likely have a lot of questions and concerns. Consider speaking with a qualified family law attorney near you. They can assist you with all your legal concerns related to these issues.

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