Many Las Vegas weddings see the happy couple live happily ever after. They are planned well in advance and turn out just as expected.
Then there are the “other” ones. Spur of the moment decisions made when times are good, and reality is left back home.
Many of these also turn out fine. But some don’t. Regret from one or both of the spouses can quickly fog the memory of that particular day.
Some couples end up seeking annulment of their Las Vegas marriage.
Is that even possible? If so, how does it differ from divorce, and what steps do you need to take?
What is the difference between annulment and divorce?
The word “annulment” means to officially declare something invalid.
So, an annulment essentially voids a marriage, deleting it from the records. This means that from a legal standpoint, the marriage never occurred and both spouses are treated as though they were never married to each other.
In Nevada, most annulments dissolve the marriage from the time it was entered into.
A divorce does not invalidate a marriage. When a judge signs the divorce decree, it legally ends a marriage. It acknowledges that there was a legal relationship between the spouses during the marriage, and it remains on the records.
Divorces can be lengthy, complex, and expensive. If you have grounds for an annulment, it may be a preferable option with fewer delays and associated costs.
Can you legally annul a Las Vegas marriage?
NRS 125 covers the laws concerning divorces and annulments in Nevada.
Annulment of marriage in Nevada state is possible, providing you meet some basic eligibility requirements.
You do not have to be a resident of Nevada if you were married here. You can also annul a marriage here if you were married outside of Nevada but are a resident of the state, i.e., resident for at least six weeks before the date you intend to file.
To annul a Las Vegas marriage, you must file within a reasonable amount of time after the marriage has taken place AND have grounds for annulment as covered by Nevada law.
Void and voidable marriages
To have any chance of success, your petition for annulment must provide a valid reason. The laws are very specific about acceptable reasons for granting an annulment, and the burden of proof rests on the filing party.
The legal grounds could be either:
- The marriage was not lawful from the start, making the marriage “void”; or
- The marriage lacks one or more legal requirements, which means it can be declared void (a “voidable” marriage).
To satisfy the first grounds, the spouses would need to present a reason why the law should not treat the union as a legal marriage. For instance,
- The spouses are related by blood (siblings, parents, and first or second cousins); or
- Either spouse was legally married to someone else (amounting to “bigamy,” which is not permitted in Nevada)
Even if a marriage is void from the start, there is still a legal process to go through to have this recognized by the Nevada courts. You must file for annulment.
For the second grounds for annulment (it lacks one or more legal requirements and is, therefore, a voidable marriage), the couple must show evidence of one of the following:
- Either spouse was under 18 years old and failed to obtain parental consent to marry;
- Ether spouse failed to consent to the marriage due to insanity, mental disability, intoxication, or any similar mental state (“want of understanding”);
- Either spouse was fraudulently induced to enter into the marriage or consented due to a misrepresentation of facts;
- Reasons such as duress, undue influence, or mutual mistake of the law.
Note that if there are children from the marriage, you will be required to include a child support and custody plan in the annulment filing.
What are the steps to annul a marriage in Las Vegas?
If you and/or your partner want to file for annulment of your Law Vegas marriage, it’s best to contact an annulment lawyer, who will guide you through the following steps:
- Determine eligibility i.e., make sure that you are either a resident of Nevada or that you were married in the state and that you have legal grounds for an annulment.
- Complete and review the annulment documents.
- Have the documents notarized.
- File the documents with the appropriate court for your annulment case.
- Expect a decision by the judge in one to four weeks, depending on the caseload at the court.
- Receive a copy of the grant of annulment and get it certified.
Do I need to come to Las Vegas to get my marriage annulled?
If the annulment of the marriage is contested by your partner and the judge sets a trial, you may need to attend court in Las Vegas in person. However, this is quite rare.
If you are out of state and required to appear before a Las Vegas judge, this may be conducted over the phone while your attorney is present in the courtroom.
Otherwise, you can arrange an annulment entirely remotely with the paperwork submitted through a local attorney representing you.
Is there a time limit to annul a wedding in Nevada?
According to Nevada law, there is no set time in which to annul a marriage. However, the filing must occur within a reasonable amount of time after the date of marriage.
As a general rule, the sooner you file, the better, and the more time that has passed, the less likely a judge will be to grant an annulment. Beyond three years and it can be more challenging, from our experience.
If you have never had a marriage relationship with your spouse, it will help your case if family or close friends are prepared to testify to that by affidavit.
In some cases, like if you discover an existing marriage or a family relationship between you and your spouse only years after your marriage, a delay may be excusable. For most grounds for annulment, however, you are expected to file within a reasonable timeframe.
If the marriage has been for many years and/or there are children from the relationship, a judge may decide that a divorce is more appropriate than an annulment. Nevada courts prefer not to render children illegitimate because of the actions of the parents.
If you need assistance with a marriage annulment in Las Vegas, call (702) 919-1919 and speak with an experienced family law attorney for an honest assessment and advice on the next steps.