Declaring A Marriage Void

An annulment is a court order that declares a marriage void. If the marriage is annulled, it means that the marriage is considered to have never existed.  People who have had a marriage declared void by annulment can indicate that they have never been married, and they are free to marry again immediately.

Grounds for Annulment in North Carolina

In North Carolina, there are very few circumstances in which a marriage can be declared void.  The length of time married is not a determining factor to request an annulment; however, the couple must be separated for at least one year and a day, in order to file for an annulment (same waiting period as when filing for a divorce).

One of the six following criteria must be proven in district court to have a marriage declared void:

  • Marriage between any two persons nearer in relationship than first cousins. First cousins are the sons or daughters of a parent's sibling.
  • Marriage between double first cousins. Double first cousins occur when a set of brothers marries a set of sisters, or a brother and a sister marry another sister and brother, and they produce children.  The children of these two marriages are double first cousins.
  • Marriage between a male person under 16 years of age and a female, with the exception of a court order as a result of a pregnancy when between the ages of 14 and 16.
  • Marriage between a female person under 16 years of age and a male, with the exception of a court order as a result of a pregnancy when between the ages of 14 and 16.
  • Marriage where either of the parties is physically impotent at the time of the marriage. Impotence must be permanent, incurable and medically diagnosed by a doctor.
  • Marriage between persons either of whom is, at the time of the marriage, incapable of contracting due to want of will or understanding is not automatically void.  The test for determining mental capacity of someone to enter into a contract to marry is the ability of the person, at the time of the marriage, to understand the special nature of a contract of marriage and the duties and responsibilities which it entails.  Such a determination is made on a case-by-case basis.

Contact us at 919-783-9669 today to discover how we can help you with grounds for annulment.

It is also important to know certain other conditions that apply:

  • No marriage—except for a bigamous one—that is followed by the spouses living together and the birth of a child shall be declared void after the death of either of the spouses.
  • No marriage by anyone 16 years old and otherwise competent to marry will be declared void when the girl is pregnant, or when a child has been born to the parties, unless at the time of the action to annul, the child has died.
  • A marriage contracted under the representation and belief that the female is pregnant are voidable unless a child has been born within ten lunar months of the date of separation, if the parties separate within 45 days of the marriage and the separation has been continuous for a period of one year.
  • Church annulments are not the same as legal annulments.

Marriages Considered Automatically Void

In North Carolina, a bigamous marriage is automatically void and does not require court action to make it so.

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