The Basics of Annulment in Mississippi & Requirements

Image of cubes with the inscription "basic" for obtaining an annulment of a divorce

In Mississippi, an annulment is a legal process that declares a marriage null and void, as if it never existed. It differs from a divorce, which ends a valid marriage. To obtain an annulment in Mississippi, specific grounds must be proven, such as fraud, bigamy, impotence, or a spouse’s mental incapacity. An annulment essentially treats the marriage as if it never occurred, which can have implications for property division, spousal support, and child custody.

In this article, you can find detailed information on the grounds for marriage annulment, the process of getting a marriage invalidated, and some distinctive features between divorce and annulment in Mississippi.

Grounds for Annulment   

When applying for marriage annulment in Mississippi, a petitioner must indicate and prove a particular reason for the court to recognize the marriage as null and void. In the state, the grounds for seeking annulment are the following:

  • Incest – if it is discovered that spouses have a blood relationship, the marriage may be annulled.
  • Bigamy – bigamy occurs when a person is already married to someone else at the time of the second marriage. If it becomes evident that one of the spouses had an existing, undissolved marriage when they entered into a new one, the latter can be annulled in Mississippi.
  • Incurable impotence – if one spouse cannot engage in sexual intercourse due to a medically confirmed condition that cannot be treated or cured, another spouse can apply for marriage annulment. It is important to note that this condition must exist at the time of marriage, and the second spouse must bring the case to the court within 6 months from the moment the partner’s impotence is discovered.
  • Incompetence – incompetence as a ground for annulment in Mississippi pertains to mental incapacity. If one or both spouses didn’t understand the nature of the marriage at the time of the wedding and didn’t give informed consent to it, the marriage can be annulled. However, a filing spouse has to prepare and submit documents to the court within 6 months from the date of marriage.
  • Age – if one or both parties were under the legal age for marriage, which is currently 21 years old in the state, and did not obtain the necessary judicial and parental consent before getting married, their marriage may be annulled.
  • Force or Fraud – duress, force, or fraud are grounds for marriage annulment in Mississippi. If a person was coerced or deceived into marriage against their will or under false pretenses, the marriage can be deemed voidable. It underscores the importance of both parties entering the marriage willingly and with full knowledge of the circumstances. If one party wants the court to recognize a marriage null and void due to force or fraud, they have 6 months to file a case.
  • Extramarital pregnancy – if, when getting married, a woman is pregnant by someone else who is not her husband, and her husband doesn’t know about the pregnancy or thinks he is the father, he can file for an annulment. However, he must do this within six months after he finds out about the pregnancy.

How to Get an Annulment in Mississippi

How does an annulment work in Mississippi? In fact, the process of collecting and filing papers resembles that of a contested fault-based divorce, when a petitioner has to prepare a packet of documents and gather irrefutable evidence to prove their claims. To initiate an annulment case, a petitioner has to file forms in chancery court in the county where a defendant resides, where the marriage was registered, or where a plaintiff lives for residents of a different state.

Quite often, spouses hire lawyers to guide them at every stage of a legal process, from completing Mississippi annulment forms to attending court hearings.

In most cases, it is necessary to initiate annulment within 6 months from the moment a petitioner has discovered the ground for seeking it. From filing with the court until the annulment can be granted, the Mississippi annulment time period is from several weeks to half a year and more, depending on the case.

Annulment vs. Divorce

Whether annulment or divorce is better in Mississippi depends on individual circumstances; an annulment declares a marriage null and void as if it never existed, while a divorce ends a legal marriage.

When it comes to the official ending of a relationship in Mississippi, spouses typically apply for divorce. However, in some rare cases, they can also file for marriage annulment.

An annulment in MS is a legal declaration that a marriage never existed. It is available under specific circumstances and is typically based on the concept that a marriage wasn’t valid from the beginning.

Divorce, on the other hand, is a legal termination of a valid marriage. It acknowledges that marriage has existed and involves dividing marital assets, establishing child custody, etc. Spouses may apply for an agreed divorce if they can resolve all issues out of court or start a contested case and participate in litigation.

Effect of an Annulment

The main effect of an annulment is declaring a marriage null and void as if it never legally existed. After the marriage is annulled, parties are free to remarry without any legal obligations to each other.

As for property division, it can vary based on the circumstances and the court’s decision. Typically, spouses live together for a short period, like 6 months, before they ask the court to annul a marriage, so they don’t accrue many joint assets and return to their pre-marital property once the marriage is annulled.

If spouses have children, child custody and support will be decided based on the kids’ best interests and well-being. The court may establish custody arrangements, visitation schedules, and child support orders.

The awarding of spousal support isn’t commonplace in annulment cases. However, depending on the specific circumstances and the financial need of one party, the court may order alimony payments for a limited duration.

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