Ah, Valentine’s Day; a day for love and romance. But let’s say you have one too many glasses of wine (or shots of Jägermeister) and wake up with a splitting headache and a new spouse. What do you do now? Perhaps an annulment is in order. But before you breathe too easily, you need to realize that an annulment is granted only if specific conditions are met.
Annulments are uncommon, but they’ve been in the public eye since it was reported that Kris Humphries was trying to annul his 72-day marriage to Kim Kardashian. Before you rush out to void your own sham marriage, however, you should be aware of the difficulties involved.
In general, Minnesota law allows annulment for three reasons. The first is lack of capacity to consent. This may be due one of several factors: mental illness or incapacity of which the other party was unaware (In the Kardashian case, although extreme narcissism and delusions of grandeur may signal mental illness, I have to believe that Kris Humphries was aware of this); because one party was under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or “other incapacitating substance”; or because consent was obtained by force or fraud and the parties did not voluntarily live together after the fraud was discovered.
The second basis for annulment is the inability of one of the parties to physically consummate the marriage through sexual intercourse. (OK, the joke here would be too easy, so I’m not going to go there.) Finally, annulment may be granted where one of the parties is under the legal age for marriage. There are also time limits for bringing annulment actions: 90 days for the first actions based on incapacity, one year for for those based on inability to consummate , and reaching the age of consent for underage marriages.
California’s annulment statute is similar to Minnesota’s and Kris Humphries is basing his case on fraud. Apparently he now thinks the whole marriage was a farce, in which case he would be one of the last people on earth to figure this out. There is speculation that the reason he is seeking an annulment rather than a divorce is because the parties’ antenuptial agreement would bar him from talking about the marriage (and being paid for doing so). If the marriage never existed, however, the antenuptial agreement is void. Time will tell how this will play out, unfortunately for Mr. Humphries, it will be an uphill battle to roll back the clock and pretend that his “marriage” never happened. Keep this in mind as you head out for an evening of romance.