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Can my marriage still be annulled if my husband is missing?

The rules about divorces, separations, and marriage annulments vary widely from state to state. Each state court has their own protocols for dealing with different marriage breakdowns. In New York, the annulment law states that an annulment cannot be obtained if the person’s spouse is currently missing.

Annulments are different from divorces, although the two things accomplish the same end result. Both processes are used to legally do away with a marriage. With a divorce, though, the marriage is acknowledged as being a valid union that is now dissolved. Annulments, on the other hand, treat the marriage as though it was never valid to begin with.

Annulments can be less complicated than divorces, but it really depends on the circumstances. The main goal of an annulment is usually for both spouses to move on as though the marriage never happened. However, not all marriages can be voided. Under New York law, your marriage must meet certain criteria if you want to have it annulled.

Grounds for Voiding Marriage in New York

New York is a state that allows marriages to be automatically voided if they meet the right circumstances. If the couple was violating state marriage laws, their marriage would be voided right away. One example would be spouses who are closely related by blood.

If it’s not obvious that state laws have been voided, you can still take steps to get the marriage annulled. For an annulment, you need to have a state-approved reason for your annulment. Your reasoning is referred to as the grounds for the annulment. New York marriage law has very strict definitions of grounds. You can get your marriage annulled if you meet any of the following circumstances:

  • You or your spouse is impotent
  • One party was underage when the marriage occurred
  • Fraud was committed
  • One party could not legally consent due to a medical issue

With cases of impotency, one spouse cannot have sexual intercourse with their spouse. The medical condition they have cannot be cured. If the non-impotent spouse wishes to have their marriage annulled, they need to provide proof that they were unaware of the condition before the marriage.

If either or both of the parties were under the age of 18 when they got married, this can be grounds for an annulment. New York law does not allow anyone below age 14 to get married. People from ages 15 to 17 can legally marry someone if they have the permission of their guardian. Unfortunately, annulments cannot be obtained if you still live with your spouse and are now over the age of 18.

Fraud can refer to any number of circumstances. In its most basic definition, fraud occurs when one party lies to the other about relevant information or fails to disclose important information. One example would be a spouse not telling their spouse that they were still legally married to another person. If the marriage was officiated under duress, this also falls under the fraud clause.

The insanity clause applies if one or both of the spouses has a mental condition that makes them unable to consent to the marriage. People who don’t understand the ramifications of marriage are not able to legally consent to be married.

Divorce May Be the Best Option

If your spouse has abandoned you, you should know that you don’t need to be trapped in that union. Even though an annulment isn’t possible under the circumstances, there are other legal avenues you can pursue. The easiest option is divorce. A divorce legally ends a marriage and frees both parties to marry other people.

If you wish to initiate divorce proceedings, you need to file a petition. The petition will include the grounds for the divorce. There are multiple legal reasons that a divorce can occur in New York. The one most relevant to this particular case is probably abandonment.

To get a divorce because of abandonment, there are a few things you need to prove.

You need to prove that your spouse’s disappearance was solely so they could leave their marriage. This means that a spouse moving for work or the military cannot qualify as “abandoning.”

The spouse must have been away from home for at least one consecutive year.

You need to illustrate that you have made attempts to reconcile and work on your issues, and that your spouse rejected these attempts.

If you and your spouse have children together, you must prove that your spouse isn’t paying the child support they are responsible for.

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