There are many reasons why a couple or party would prefer to annul their marriage rather than dissolve it. However, there are strict regulations as to which types of marriages are allowed to be annulled.
Florida has no special rule or statute which governs annulment. The proceeding may be brought by the innocent party, and may be brought at any time. In some situations, the courts might allow parents to seek annulment of the marriage of an underage child, when in the best interest of the child, since some other contracts made by under age children may be set aside upon the initiative of their parents or guardians.
Annulment is an appropriate method of termination of the marriage where one of the parties lacked the capacity to contract; either because of a prior existing marriage, extreme intoxication or lack of the requisite mental capacity. A lack of physical capacity to consummate the marriage may also be sufficient grounds for annulment.
If the lack of intent to contract or to fulfill the contract can be proven, the marriage can be annulled. A marriage induced by fraud and deceit can be annulled where the marriage has not been consummated. Misrepresentation of pregnancy, alone, has been held an insufficient reason for annulment. It appears, however, that sexual intercourse operates as a complete ratification of a marriage otherwise voidable.
A marriage entered into under duress may be annulled if the duress dominated throughout the relationship of the parties to the extent that one party was prevented from acting as a free agent.
Despite the fact that the contesting party may prove some of the previously mentioned defects in the marriage, annulment may not be allowed, where that party has ratified the marriage. If the person seeking annulment is aware of the defects and nevertheless confirms the marriage, it is deemed ratified and not later subject to annulment. In effect, the complaining party has waived his right to contest the contract, unless it can be shown that the person ratifying the agreement was not aware of all of the material facts and therefore could not have knowingly waived his rights. See Lambertini v. Lambertini, where the Third District Court of Appeal reversed the granting of an annulment where the parties co-habitated for thirty years, held themselves out as husband and wife, bought property as tenants by the entireties, bore and raised two children and the testimony showed the parties reasonably relied on the marriage.
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