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Marriage Annulment in Texas: What Is It?

Sophia Merton
June 6, 2024

When you think about ending a marriage, divorce is likely the first thing that comes to mind. However, in some circumstances, a marriage annulment in Texas might be more appropriate.

What exactly is a marriage annulment, and what are the legal grounds you can use to declare a marriage null and void?

  • An annulment is a bit different than a divorce– when a marriage is annulled, it means that the marriage is being legally declared as never having been valid and, therefore, never having existed in the first place.

Let’s take a closer look at what you need to know about marriage annulment in Texas and whether it’s the path that works best for you.

What Is Marriage Annulment in Texas?

A marriage annulment in Texas is a legal procedure that declares a marriage null and void as if it never legally existed. This is different from a divorce, which ends a legally valid marriage.

couple talking about getting a marriage annulment in Texas

Once you are able to prove one of the acceptable grounds for annulment, it can be pretty straightforward to annul a marriage in Texas. However, if you bought property together or either conceived or had a child together during the marriage, the process typically gets more complicated.

What Are the Grounds For Annulment in Texas?

There are a number of situations where an annulment is allowed in Texas. All of these reasons are understood under Texas law to indicate that the marriage was never actually valid in the first place, allowing for the marriage to be declared null and void.

couple talking about getting a marriage annulment in Texas

Here are the grounds for annulment in Texas:

  • One spouse was under 18 years old at the time of the marriage
  • One spouse was under the influence of alcohol or narcotics at the time of the marriage
  • One spouse was permanently impotent at the time of the marriage
  • The marriage was entered into under conditions of fraud, duress, or force
  • One spouse was mentally incapable of consenting to the marriage
  • One spouse concealed a recent divorce from the other spouse
  • The marriage occurred less than 72 hours after the marriage license was issued

Searching for more information about family law in Texas? Check out some of our guides:

Is There a Difference Between an Annulment and a Divorce in Texas?

Yes, there are significant differences between an annulment and a divorce in Texas. An annulment is a legal procedure that declares a marriage null and void as if it never legally existed in the first place. In contrast, a divorce is the legal dissolution of a valid marriage, ending the marital relationship between spouses.

couple talking about getting a marriage annulment in Texas

Essentially, an annulment voids a marriage as if it never existed, requiring specific grounds and proof, while a divorce ends a legally valid marriage and addresses the division of property, support, and child-related issues.

Grounds For Annulment Vs Grounds For Divorce

The grounds through which you can be granted an annulment versus a divorce in Texas are different.

Annulments require specific grounds such as:

  • Underage marriage
  • Mental incapacity
  • Fraud
  • Duress
  • Force
  • Impotency
  • Concealment of a previous divorce
  • Marriage within 72 hours of license issuance

Divorce can be granted on various grounds, including no-fault grounds like insupportability and fault-based grounds such as adultery, cruelty, abandonment, felony conviction, and living apart.

Legal Status

In terms of legal status, an annulled marriage is considered void from the beginning, as if it never legally occurred. In contrast, a marriage remains valid until a court issues a divorce decree.

couple talking about getting a marriage annulment in Texas

If you get divorced, you are still legally considered to have been married. An annulment, on the other hand, restores your pre-marriage status due to the fact that it declares that the marriage never existed.

Property Division

When it comes to property division, the court may divide property and debts acquired during an annulled marriage, but the rules may differ from those applied in a divorce. In a divorce, the court will divide marital property and debts according to Texas community property laws, typically resulting in an equitable distribution.

While fewer people are qualified to get an annulment based on strict requirements, getting an annulment can simplify the legal process of splitting up. A divorce requires equitable division of community property, while an annulment doesn’t involve dividing marital property in the same way.

Spousal Support

Spousal support is typically not awarded in an annulment, but the court may order support in certain cases. In a divorce, spousal support may be awarded based on factors such as the length of the marriage, financial need, and the ability of the other spouse to pay.

For the record, though, Texas is notoriously one of the most difficult states to be awarded court-ordered spousal maintenance.

Child Custody and Support

If there are children involved, both annulment and divorce proceedings will address child custody, visitation, and support. The court will determine these issues as part of the annulment or divorce case.

Getting a marriage annulment in Texas is still possible if you have children, but it does tend to complicate the process. Texas courts always deal with child-related issues from the standpoint of what is in the best interest of the child.

Legal Proceedings

The legal proceedings for an annulment require proving specific grounds in court, which can be more complex due to the need to establish that the marriage was void from the start. 

Divorce involves filing a petition, serving the other spouse, and resolving issues related to property, support, and children. Divorce can be based on no-fault grounds, making it potentially simpler to obtain.

Time Limits

Certain grounds for annulment have specific time limits for filing. For example, a petition based on underage marriage must be filed before the underage spouse turns 18 or shortly thereafter.

There are no specific time limits for filing for divorce, but residency requirements must be met: either spouse must have lived in Texas for at least six months and in the county where the petition is filed for at least 90 days.

Are you wondering whether it’s time for you and your spouse to go your separate ways? Check out our article about how to tell if it’s too late to save a marriage.

Is There a Difference Between an Annulment and a Suit to Declare a Marriage Void in Texas?

Yes, there are differences between an annulment and a suit to declare a marriage void in Texas. Both legal actions can end a marriage, but they are based on different legal principles and have distinct implications.

An annulment is a legal procedure that declares a marriage invalid from the outset due to specific grounds that existed at the time of the marriage. When an annulment is granted, it is as though the marriage never legally existed. The court may still address issues such as property division, spousal support, and child custody as part of the annulment process.

On the other hand, a suit to declare a marriage void is a legal action that asserts the marriage was never valid under Texas law. This type of suit is used in cases where the marriage is inherently unlawful from the start.

Common grounds for declaring a marriage void include bigamy and incestuous relationships. When a marriage is declared void, it is legally considered as never having existed at all, and there is no need to address the marriage's validity.

However, the court may still need to resolve issues like child custody and property division, especially if there were any assets or children from the relationship.

Basically, an annulment is based on grounds that render a marriage invalid due to circumstances at the time of the marriage, effectively nullifying it. A suit to declare a marriage void, however, addresses marriages that are inherently illegal under Texas law, asserting that they were never valid from the beginning.

What Are the Requirements For Filing an Annulment in Texas?

You (or your spouse) will need to meet certain criteria in order to get an annulment in Texas. One of the following must be true in order to be granted an annulment from a court in the Lone Star State:

  • Either you or your spouse permanently reside in Texas
  • Your marriage occurred in Texas

The spouse who actually files the annulment petition is known as the “petitioner,” while the other involved party is referred to as the “respondent.” You’ll want to file your petition from the county where either you or your spouse live or where you got married.

There are filing fees that vary depending on the county, but fee waivers are available for those that are eligible.

Annulment, Divorce, and Marriage in Texas

If you’re pursuing a marriage annulment in Texas, it might be worth working with a qualified attorney. This is a particularly good idea if you and the other party have valuable assets or children together.

Navigating the legal framework of Family Law in Texas isn’t the simplest feat. If you’re searching for more resources to help guide you through the process of annulment, divorce, or marriage in Texas, make sure you check out the rest of our Texas Divorce Laws blog.

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Written By:
Sophia Merton
Sophia received her BA from Vassar College. She is a researcher and writer that aims to help make the complexities of the legal system understandable to the layperson. Believing that people can be empowered by understanding their rights and responsibilities under the law, Sophia aims to offer accurate and well-researched information in straightforward and easy-to-digest legal articles.

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