If you are considering pursuing the civil annulment of your marriage, the first thing you should understand is that they are relatively rare and for good reason: Annulments are only obtainable under specific conditions that must be affirmed by a court. But, if those conditions are met, annulments offer some advantages to traditional divorce.

So, let’s review when an annulment is appropriate.

What Is An Annulment?

The easiest way to understand the difference between a civil annulment and a divorce is that an annulment means the marriage was never legally valid in the first place and erases its existence.

Unlike in divorce, spousal support is never awarded in an annulment and, since the marriage did not legally exist, assets are generally divided reflective of how both parties entered the marriage.

Although the marriage is wiped from the record, children born during the marriage or within 300 days after an annulment may still be a parent’s responsibility for child support and other obligations.

Missouri Annulment Criteria

Family law varies from state to state, but Missouri and most states use five common criteria that allow for annulments. They are:

Duress or fraud

This can be what has been referred to as a shotgun wedding but includes many types of coercion. Fraud can include an undisclosed criminal record or an inability to engage in sex or to have children.


Neither party may have been married when the wedding took place.


In Missouri, you must have written consent of parents if one or more party is under 18 years old in and permission from a court if under 15 years old.


The parties may not be related by blood, through and including first cousins.

Mental incompetence

When one party lacked the capacity to consent to the marriage.

In Missouri, there are specific rules that govern whether a marriage license is valid. The license must be picked up prior to the marriage ceremony. The person performing the marriage ceremony shall return the license to the issuing Recorder of Deeds within 15 days and the marriage ceremony must occur within 30 days from the date of issuance.

The Process For Annulment In Missouri

In Missouri, family law cases are filed in the circuit court. Some areas have special courts called “family courts” that are part of the circuit court. A judge will review whether the petition for annulment meets the criteria described above.

Annulments contain many complexities. If you would like to talk with an experienced family law attorney, contact Marler Law Partners for a complementary consultation today.