In Texas, a court can determine that a marriage is invalid and grant an annulment. Once an annulment is granted, the spouses are no longer married and the marriage is determined to have never existed. This is different than a divorce where the court recognizes that there was a valid marriage that has now ended.
Grounds for annulment
There are several grounds for annulment. These include when one of the spouses was under the age of 18, was under the influence of alcohol or narcotics, lacked mental capacity to marry or was convinced to marry the other spouse by fraud, duress or force.
If a person is under 18 years old and married without a court order or did not have parental consent, the court may grant an annulment. There are exceptions if the person was legally emancipated. In situations where a spouse was under the influence, the spouse must have been intoxicated to the point they could not consent to the marriage.
The court can also annul the marriage if one spouse made a misrepresentation that influenced the other spouse to marry him or her or if the petitioning spouse did not have the mental capacity to consent to marriage.
Effects of annulment on children
If the spouses had children or adopted children during the marriage, the annulment action will also include a child custody suit. The court will address issues such as visitation, health insurance and child support.
If the parties do not qualify for an annulment, they may still decide to pursue divorce. An experienced family law attorney can provide advice and representation.