Question: I’ve only been married for four months; we have no children, assets, debts or anything needs to be divided. Why can’t I apply for an annulment instead of a divorce?

Answer: An annulment in Virginia is different from a divorce: a divorce is the end to a valid marriage, while an annulment is the end of an invalid marriage. To get an annulment in Virginia, you must be able to prove one of the following circumstances or “grounds” of your marriage:

  • Bigamy – a spouse already has a husband or wife at the time of marriage
  • Incest – the spouses are related, closer than first cousins
  • Incompetent – either spouse was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the marriage and was unable to make informed consent; or one spouse wasn’t mentally able to understand the marriage due to mental illness, etc.
  • Fraud – a spouse only agreed to marry because of the other spouse’s lies or serious misrepresentations
  • Impotence – either spouse is physically and permanently incapable of having sexual relations during the marriage
  • Underage – one spouse is under the legal age to be married which is eighteen (18); and sixteen (16) with the consent of a parent or legal guardian
  • Prostitute or felon – one spouse did not tell the other they were a prostitute or convicted felon
  • Child by another person – a wife is pregnant by another man at the time of marriage or a husband has a child by another woman within 10 months of marriage
  • Duress – one spouse only married because of force or fear of serious harm, and
  • Sham marriage – the spouses got married for intentions other than the normal purposes of marriage; example: for immigration purposes, etc.

However, if you don’t qualify for an annulment, you should be able to get a simple uncontested divorce. In many ways it is actually easier to get an uncontested divorce than to file for an annulment in Virginia.