Maine Annulment & Prohibited Marriages Attorneys
Sometimes, marriages are not “till death do us part”.
In fact, some marriages are made hastily and quickly regretted by one or both parties. Others are found to be illegal and need to be annulled.
In the case of a requested annulment, the parties concerned must make a case to the court for why it should be annulled. Eligibility requirements exist for marriage annulments in Maine and these need to be met.
Legal representation is often required to present a compelling case to a judge and ensure that the correct documentation is submitted in support.
The annulment and prohibited marriage lawyers at The Maine Divorce Group can help you determine eligibility for annulment and navigate the legal processes involved.
What is an annulment?
An annulment is different from a divorce. An annulment means that no valid marriage ever existed. A divorce, on the other hand, legally ends a valid marriage. This has important legal ramifications for the parties concerned.
Sometimes, the reason for annulment is that the marriage was illegal in the first place. For instance, if the marriage was between family members, which is prohibited in Maine.
At other times, however, couples seek annulment as a preference over divorce. In some societies and religions, there is a perceived stigma attached to divorce that can be avoided by an annulment.
What are the legal grounds for annulment in Maine?
To be eligible for an annulment in Maine, you first need “legal grounds” – or a reason. There are six possible legal grounds for annulment in the state:
- The spouses are related (first cousins or closer)
- One spouse had another living spouse at the time of marriage (bigamous marriage)
- One spouse is not of sound mind (mental illness or retardation)
- One spouse is under the legal age of marriage in Maine (16, unless there is written consent from parents)
- One spouse defrauded the other into getting married
- One spouse is impotent
These are the basic grounds for an annulment but some have additional stipulations. For instance, first cousins (or closer relatives) from a family are generally prohibited from marrying in Maine. However, if they can prove that they received genetic counseling from a doctor, they may be able to get married legally. The marriage cannot later be annulled.
In the case of alleged mental retardation, an annulment will only be approved if one of the spouses was unable to understand the meaning of marriage and was, therefore, considered incapable of making a responsible, informed decision.
Marriages annulled because one spouse is impotent are rare in Maine. To prove a case of defrauding a spouse, you will almost certainly need a lawyer to build a case with a considerable body of evidence to support the claim.
What is the process for annulment in Maine?
An application for a marriage annulment in Maine starts with filing a “Complaint for Annulment” in the district court. This should be filed in the county where your spouse lives or where you have lived for at least 60 days.
You may be able to complete this form without the assistance of a lawyer if the clerk at the district court has a sample form to help you.
As the plaintiff, you will need to specify how long you and your spouse have lived in the county where you file the complaint form. State the date of marriage, whether there have been any children from the marriage, and your grounds for an annulment.
The defendant (your spouse) will need to be served with a copy of the complaint after it has been filed with the district court. There may be several options for this and your annulment lawyer can assist.
If the judge approves the request for annulment according to the submitted documentation (or both parties agree on the proposed annulment and there are legal grounds for it), an order granting the annulment will be signed. Legally, then, you and your spouse were never married.
After an annulment, you can request that a judge divides the property accrued during the time of the marriage before it was annulled.
Keep in mind that if children were born during the marriage in Maine, they are considered legitimate even after an annulment (because modern culture doesn’t discriminate against someone born out-of-wedlock). As such, both parents continue to have a legal obligation to financially support their children until the age of 18.
What is a prohibited marriage in Maine?
Sometimes, one party in the marriage or a family member claims that the marriage was illegal in the first place.
The rules regarding prohibited marriages are laid out in Maine Code Revised Title 19-A, Section 701. A prohibited marriage in Maine is one with any of the following characteristics:
- Incestuous marriages with first cousins or closer family members (unless the parties can present a certificate of genetic counseling with a doctor)
- Bigamous/polygamous marriages (even if a spouse is estranged and you have not seen them for years)
- Marriages with underage spouses
- Marriages when a person is suffering from severe mental illness or mental retardation (no capacity to marry)
- Out-of-state marriages to evade Maine’s law
Note that same-sex marriages have been legal in Maine since 2012 and across the U.S. since 2015. However, common-law marriages are not recognized in the state of Maine.
If you would like more information, don’t hesitate to reach out to the Maine Divorce Group directly online or call us at 207-230-6597 today.
Call 207-230-6597 or contact us online to schedule a consult with one of our highly skilled family law attorneys today.
We serve many clients, just like you, across Maine in Cumberland, York, Sagadahoc, & Lincoln Counties.
Contact The Maine Divorce Group today
HOW CAN THE MAINE GROUP DIVORCE HELP?
Divorce is a highly emotional and stressful experience for most people. But you don’t have to face this challenge alone. Having a strong divorce attorney in your corner can help ensure that you and your children walk away from this process with the best opportunities available for future success and happiness.