In the State of Minnesota void and voidable marriages are annulled.The divorce proceedings are costly and protracted, even though the ground is simple.However, there are ways and means to simply the divorce proceedings. A person after getting married and living in good faith with his or her spouse, later discovers that his or her marriage is void or voidable, it is better to go for dissolution of the marriage than to get the marriage annulled, so as to enjoy the benefits of divorce laws of the State of Minnesota.
Annulment Vs Divorce in Minnesota
While annulment is referred to as the nullification of a marriage, divorce is referred to as the dissolution of a marriage in the State of Minnesota. In other words, by annulment of a marriage, the marriage is just declared null and void as it never happened.But, by dissolving or by dissolution of a marriage, the marital relationship comes to an end and even after dissolution of your marriage,you have certain legal obligations to perform,like maintaining your former wife, looking after your children etc.In the case of annulment you do not have any such legal obligations However, in order to nullify or dissolve an existing marriage, a person has no other go but to move to a District court of a county in Minnesota. The ordeal begins by the meeting and counseling with a lawyer, spending a considerable amount and time, attending the proceedings of the court and finally reaching the goal of getting a final order in the annulment and divorce proceedings. Those people who cannot afford to pay the requisite court-fee can claim a fee waiver from a family court judge by getting declared as in forma pauperism provided the applicant meets the Federal income criteria.
Chapters 517 and 518 of Minnesota Statues deal with annulment and divorce provisions and connected proceedings.
If a marriage lacks the essential elements of a civil contract, the marriage automatically becomes null and void. An annulment is immediately granted by a court of law, if the marriage is automatically void under the law for the public policy reasons and voidable at the option of one party to the marriage, when the essential elements of a marriage were not present at the time of marriage and it comes to the knowledge of the party to the marriage only subsequently.
The prerequisites necessary to constitute a valid marriage in the state of Minnesota are:
• Marriage between the opposite sexes only. i.e marriage between a male and female. In other words, same sex marriage, between two gays, or between two lesbians are not recognized in the state of Minnesota and so a gay marriage or a lesbian marriage is void and automatically becomes null and void.
• The parties to the marriage should have a valid marriage license and in the absence of which the marriage is void.
• A marriage should be held in the presence of two witnesses.
• The marriage should be conducted by a duly authorized person.
The absence of all or any one of the above mentioned prerequisites, automatically nullify a marriage in the State of Minnesota.
Besides, the following marriages are also void:
• When the marriage is considered bigamous: When the marriage between the parties is solemnized under the circumstances that one of the parties to the marriage has got already married and that marriage is still subsisting and not judicially dissolved as required by section 518.145 of the Statues of Minnesota.
• Interfamily marriage: between an ancestor and a descendant, a brother and a sister, between adopted children, and between close relatives etc are void.
• Same sex marriages between two males or females and same sex marriages held in other states where LGBT laws are in force are void in the state of Minnesota.
2. Voidable marriages:
Voidable marriages do not automatically become void, but they are voidable at the option of a party to the marriage. The following cases are voidable marriages:
• When the marriage was solemnized, one of the parties to the marriage was actually suffering from the lack of mental capacity to take a decision on his or her marriage. However, the other party to the marriage came to know about it only later on. Then it is a fit case of voidable marriage.
• After solemnizing the marriage, one of the parties to the marriage cannot consummate it. In other words, he or she cannot have intercourse with his or her spouse. Then, this lack of physical capacity to have intercourse is a fit case of voidable marriage.
• In the State of Minnesota, 18 years of age is the requisite age for a marriage or if any one of the parties is below 18, then consent of the father or mother or guardian or the court is necessary. After solemnization of the marriage, it is found that one of the parties to the marriage is below 18 or in case of under age proper consent from appropriate authority has not been obtained properly. Then it is a fit case for voidable marriage.
• In some other cases of marriage, it is found that consent of one of the parties to the marriage was obtained by fraud, or some other important information that have a bearing on the marriage was not divulged, say first wife of the husband was still alive, but she was reported dead at the time of marriage. Then the marriage is vitiated by fraud and so it is a voidable marriage.
However, any one who approaches the court of law in the State of Minnesota seeking annulment or dissolution of marriage must have been a resident of the state for a minimum period of 180 days. Then only he or she can approach a court of law.
Anyone who desires to annul or dissolve his or her marriage should always consult a lawyer, preferably a family law or divorce law expert.
In case of annulment, there is no any specific form to fill up or file in a court of law. Hence, the advice and services of a lawyer will always be handy. Besides, in the state of Minnesota, those who wish to approach the court of law to annul their marriage should also tread cautiously, because of the limitation aspects in enforcing the annulment provisions.
• Annulment will not be granted after the death of the one of the parties to the marriage.
• An annulment being sought on the ground of mental incapacity of one of the parties to the marriage should be filed within 90 days from the date of knowledge of mental incapacity.
• Seeking annulment on the ground of physical incapacity to have intercourse or to consummate the marriage should be filed within one year from the date of knowledge.
• In the case of a person who was under age at the time of marriage and whose consent was obtained by fraud, should seek annulment of his or her marriage, before attaining the requisite age for marriage.
Therefore, before seeking annulment in a court of law one should always be careful about the above mentioned aspects. Besides, if a party to the marriage comes to know that his or her consent was obtained by fraud and still he or she cohabits with his or her spouse unmindful of the fraud committed by his or her spouse, the court might take a serious note of it. In that event, the petitioner may opt for dissolution of marriage instead of seeking annulment.
Dissolution of Marriage:
In the State of Minnesota, while a person seeking annulment of his or her marriage is more concerned about the void and voidable marriages and the limitation aspects in enforcing them, the person seeking dissolution of his or her marriage has comparatively little worries about the ground for filing a petition seeking dissolution of his or her marriage.
In the State of Minnesota, the sole ground that a person seeking the dissolution of his or her marriage is the irretrievable breakdown of their marriage. Unlike the proceedings of annulment, the person seeking the dissolution of marriage has a number of forms to fill up and file in a court of law according to his or her circumstances. A person seeking the dissolution of marriage may use the following forms:
• General divorce forms
• Summary dissolution forms
• Joint petition without children forms
• Petition for divorce without children forms
• Answer and counter petition without children forms
• Temporary relief without children forms
• Response to temporary relief without children forms
• Joint petition with children forms
• Petition for divorce with children forms
• Answer and counter petitions with children forms
• Temporary relief with children forms
• Response to temporary relief with children forms
• Default scheduling forms
• Service by alternate means forms
• Contempt motion for divorce decree forms
• Response to contempt motion for divorce decree forms.
The proceedings for the dissolution of marriage are elaborate, protracted and complicated depending upon the circumstances of the petitioners seeking dissolution of their marriage. .However, there are ways to get them settled as easily and as amicably possible by having a pre-nuptial agreement, alternate dispute resolution methods and engaging in divorce mediation process. The proceedings of dissolution of marriage becomes more lengthy and costly, if parties to the marriage have more movable and immovable properties, more children especially minor children that add problems like child custody, visitation and maintenance etc, besides providing maintenance to their divorced spouse. The divorce proceedings end with the passing of a decree of divorce by the court of law and then by the issue of a divorce certificate to the parties to the proceedings.
In most states, annulment of marriage may result in extinguishing their interests in property rights acquired during the marriage. In such cases, the parties to the marriage are entitled to the properties in their name. But in the State of Minnesota it is different.The State of Minnesota recognizes the concept of putative spouse.Any person who has cohabited with his spouse under good faith that he has legally married acquires the same rights conferred by the divorce statue including property rights and the rights of maintenance. However, these rights are terminated when the marriage is annulled.
Therefore, in the State of Minnesota if a person gets married legally and cohabits with his or her spouse in good faith and later on discovers that his or her marriage is vitiated by fraud or any other drawbacks, instead of proceeding against him or her to get the marriage annulled, it is always better to go for dissolution of the marriage against his or her spouse so as to enjoy the benefits of divorce laws of Minnesota.