In the State of Kansas, divorce and annulment are two types of legal proceedings that request a court order relating to a marriage. Divorce is more common. Annulment is available only in limited situations. The two kinds of court actions are reviewed by the courts under different standards and have different legal effects.
An annulment under state law is not the same as a religious annulment by a church or other organization. This article discusses only the legal process for an annulment under Kansas law.
A state law, Kan. Stat. Ann. § 23-2702, governs Kansas annulment actions. The statute provides that a court may grant a decree of annulment for a void or voidable marriage.
A void marriage is one that is invalid under state law. A marriage between two people who are related by blood as first cousins or closer is prohibited under state law and therefore void. A void marriage also occurs if one of the individuals is already married to another person at the time of the second marriage (bigamy).
Individuals in a void marriage do not need to obtain a court order for the marriage to be invalid, since the marriage is not ever valid under the law. However, one or both people may wish to file an annulment proceeding to obtain a court decree that provides written legal evidence of the invalidity of the marriage.
Voidable marriages are more complicated than void marriages. A voidable marriage is one that can be declared invalid by a court. However, the marriage is valid unless a court issues an annulment decree invalidating the marriage.
The annulment statute provides two situations in which a marriage is voidable:
For the court to declare a marriage invalid on the grounds provided in the law, evidence must be presented to the court substantiating the basis for the annulment request.
Examples of situations in which a Kansas court may grant annulment of a voidable marriage include circumstances involving:
Even if grounds for annulment exist, obtaining an annulment involves a complicated legal process. When a Kansas court decides to annul a marriage, the judge has authority to divide the spouses’ property and assets, as well as order one spouse to pay financial support for a period of time or until the other spouse remarries.
For information on the grounds for divorce in Kansas, please refer to our blog post, No-Fault Divorce in Kansas. If you think your marriage may qualify for annulment, or you are unsure whether to pursue an annulment or divorce, you should discuss your situation with an experienced family law attorney.
If a court grants a decree of annulment, the marriage is invalid from the very beginning. In legal terms, it is as if the marriage never existed. In contrast, a divorce decree ends a valid marriage but does not invalidate the marriage. The marriage existed legally for the period preceding the divorce decree.
While annulment and divorce have very different legal implications, both legal actions require similar processes and proceedings in court. The action is initiated by a petition filed with the court. Different legal standards apply in the two proceedings, but both require producing evidence in court to substantiate the request contained in the petition.
A child born during an annulled marriage or within 300 days of the date of the annulment decree is legitimate under Kansas law. Both parents have the obligation to support the child financially and emotionally. The granting does not affect the duties imposed on the parents of children under Kansas law.
If you have questions about the Kansas laws and process, you should speak with an experienced family law attorney. Your lawyer will explain the differences between an annulment and a divorce, discuss and analyze your situation, and provide advice on the legal options available in your situation.
Our domestic and family law attorneys at Hampton & Royce, L.C., understand how difficult and emotional annulment, divorce, and the related issues are for clients. Our clients count on us to protect their interests and needs for both the short-term and the long-term.
We serve clients throughout the State of Kansas. Contact us to schedule a consultation.