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Washington Annulment and Prohibited Marriage Laws

State laws dictate the grounds under which a civil annulment may be granted and which types of marriage are prohibited. Examples of types of marriage that are prohibited are those between close family members, or those where a previous marriage was not ended either through a divorce or a spouse's death.

In Washington, laws related to civil annulments and prohibited marriages are very similar to those of other states.

Prohibited Marriages in Washington

In Washington, certain types of marriages are prohibited. These include marrying your first cousin or other close family members, such as a sibling or parent. In addition, you can't get married if you already have a spouse or domestic partner. You'll have to get a formal divorce first. Also, you have to be of legal age or you'll need parental permission.

Same Sex Marriage

Same-sex marriages is legal across the country. In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court heard a case called Obergefell v. HodgesIn that case, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that state bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional. As a result, same-sex marriage is now legal in all states.

Civil Annulments In Washington

In Washington, an "annulment proceeding" is legally known as a "Declaration Concerning Validity of Marriage" hearing. It is a way for the courts to cancel a marriage if they find that one of the requirements of a legal marriage was not actually present at the time the couple was married.

To obtain an annulment, you must be able to establish that you fall within one of the statutory exceptions that allows your marriage to be declared "invalid."

If a court finds your marriage to be invalid, it is as if the marriage itself never happened. Either spouse can file for a Washington annulment or declaration of invalidity. In the event that a spouse is married to more than one person, a child of the later marriage or any other legal spouse may also file a petition for invalidity.

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

Prohibited Marriages

Under relevant state law, the following types of marriage are prohibited:
  • Previous undissolved marriage,
  • Incestuous marriage
  • Marriages between spouses where one or both of the parties was underage and the consent of a parent or guardian was not obtained
  • Marriages were the spouses were forced to marry
  • Marriages that were entered into by fraud or under duress
  • Marriages that were entered into by spouses that were unable to consent due to a disability

Grounds for Annulment

Under RCWA 26.09.040, the following are grounds for a civil annulment:
  • If one or both of the spouses were under the age of consent (17) at the time of the marriage
  • If one or both of the spouses was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the marriage
  • If one of the spouses was incapable of consent at the time of the marriage
  • For other reasons why a person may pursue a civil annulment, please review the law that is linked immediately above

Time Limits for Obtaining Annulment

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Legitimacy of Children

Under RCWA 26.09.040(5), children that are born to a marriage that is legally invalid or annulled are considered legitimate.

Note: State laws are constantly changing. Contact a Washington family law attorney 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 Washington, including those related to civil annulments and prohibited marriages:

  • At Washington 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.

Civil Annulments and Prohibited Marriages: Related Resources

Consider reviewing the following resources as well for more information about laws and legal issues related to civil annulments and prohibited marriages:

Need More Help? Speak with an Attorney Today

If you're considering an annulment or in a marriage that is legally invalid or prohibited, you likely have many concerns about laws and legal issues related to such marital circumstances. It's advised that you speak with a qualified family law attorney, if you need more help. They can assist you with all your legal concerns.

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