Although it is a somewhat rare occurrence, an interesting family law question I occasionally encounter is that of annulment in Pennsylvania. In Pennsylvania, the law establishes a very specific set of circumstances under which one can have a marriage annulled. Unlike in Nevada, where you can obtain an annulment from the same Elvis impersonator that married you 12 hazy hours earlier, in Pennsylvania, there are five justifications that are accepted by the Court for annulment.
First, if either party was under the age of 16 years old and did not have the express permission of the Court to get married, the marriage can be annulled. Second, if either party was 16 or 17 years old at the time of marriage and did not have the permission of a parent or guardian or the express authorization of the Court, the marriage can be annulled. An action for annulment must be initiated within 60 days of the marriage and the underage party can not have reached the age of 18 and ratified the marriage with the Court.
Third, if either party was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the marriage, it can be annulled. Again, a petition must be brought before the Court within 60 days of the marriage.
Fourth, if either party was, at the time of the marriage, and still is naturally and incurably impotent, the marriage may be subject to annulment. However, if the other party was aware of his or her partner’s impotence prior to the marriage, it may not be annulled.
Finally, if one party was induced to enter into the marriage due to fraud, duress, coercion or force by the other party and there has been no subsequent voluntary cohabitation after knowledge of fraud or release from the effects of fraud, duress, coercion or force, he or she may obtain an annulment. In this case, it is important to remember the second portion of the above law. If you were to willfully cohabitate with the spouse that forced or tricked you into marriage, you lose the ability to have the marriage annulled and must pursue the much more lengthy divorce process instead.
Despite the fact that the frequency with which these situations arise is somewhat rare, it is important to be aware of the law as the timeframe for obtaining an annulment is often only 60 days. If you think that a you or a loved one entered a relationship under any of the above circumstances and would like to pursue an annulment, contact one of my family law attorneys at Gusty A. E. Sunseri & Associates as soon as possible.