Monthly Archives: October 2020

Can I Have My Marriage Annulled?


Every so often, we receive the question, “Can I have my marriage annulled?” Annulments are fairly uncommon because they happen infrequently and are difficult to prove. Nonetheless, they do still occur and are an option to end marriages that are considered void from the start. 


What is an annulment?

An annulment is a legal action that seeks to void your marriage. If granted, the annulment it means the marriage never existed and the parties can say that they were never married to each other. 

You are probably most familiar with annulments in the context of Las Vegas weddings and spontaneous celebrity marriages. For example, Britney Spears and Jason Alexander received an annulment after having a spontaneous marriage ceremony in Las Vegas back in 2004. Spears stated that she did not fully understand the context of what was happening, meaning she was “incapable” of getting married.

Some divorced couples attempt to have their marriages annulled before eventually filing for divorce. For instance, Sophia Bush and Chad Michael Murray attempted to annul their marriage back in 2003, but ultimately had to go through the divorce process. A similar situation occurred with Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries after their infamous seventy-two-day marriage in 2011.


How is an annulment different from divorce?

An annulment is different from a divorce because a divorce ends a marriage while an annulment declares that the marriage never existed. . An annulment considers the marriage to be void from the time of the ceremony. A divorce recognizes that two people entered into a marital relationship, which must be dissolved by a court.   


What are the reasons for annulment in Maryland?

To obtain an annulment, the court must agree that your marriage is void because of one or more of the following reasons:

  1. One spouse coerced the other to get married. The coerced spouse must have been under duress at the time of the marriage and in fear of bodily harm.
  2. One spouse committed fraud to convince the other to marry them. The person who committed fraud must have lied about something essential to the marriage.
  3. One spouse is already married to another person who is still living. In the state of Maryland, it is illegal to be married to two people at the same time.
  4. One spouse was mentally incapable of being married. Incapable means the person lacked understanding of consent or were considered mentally unsound at the time of the marriage ceremony.
  5. The spouses are too closely related to each other, for example, they are first cousins.
  6. Either spouse was under the age of 18 at the time of marriage, unless the underage spouse is 16 or 17 and had parental consent, or the underage spouse is 15, pregnant, and had parental consent.
  7. The marriage was performed by someone without the legal authority to perform marriages. In this case the marriage license will also not be valid


How do I annul my married?

An experienced family law attorney can help you determine if it is possible to have your marriage annulled. If your marriage is not eligible for an annulment, an attorney can help you sort through your options to determine if you would like to proceed with a divorce.


Divorce and marriage annulments are complex and require the knowledge and skills of an experienced family law attorney. If you have questions, please contact Turnbull, Nicholson & Sanders, P.A. at (410) 339-4100 or Our team of family law attorneys is here to help guide you.


What Are the Grounds For Absolute Divorce in Maryland?

In the state of Maryland, there are two types of divorce, “Absolute Divorce” and “Limited Divorce”. “Absolute divorce” means the marriage has ended. Once an Absolute divorce has been granted, the parties can remarry. A “Limited divorce” does not end the marriage. Rather, a Limited divorce is awarded to establish certain responsibilities (ie., child support and alimony) while the parties are separated but the marriage has not ended.  Certain issues, such as the division of retirement assets, cannot be resolved through a Limited Divorce.

To file for divorce, one or both spouses must prove there are one or more “grounds”. Grounds are reasons for a divorce that are recognized by Maryland’s legal system. Maryland categorizes grounds as “No Fault” and “Fault Grounds for Divorce”. As the name suggests, “No Fault” grounds for divorce do not require proof that one person is at fault for ending the marriage. A “Fault” ground divorce means that one spouse caused the break-up of the marriage


What are the grounds for Absolute Divorce?

  1. Mutual consent. You can get an absolute divorce under this No Fault ground if both spouses agree to a Mutual Consent Divorce. A Mutual Consent Divorce requires you and your spouse to enter into a settlement agreement that resolves all issues, and that neither party has moved to set aside that agreement prior to a hearing. There is no waiting period for a Mutual Consent divorce, and the parties do not even need to be separated.  
  2. Twelve-month separation. Unlike other states, a “legal separation” does not exist in Maryland. However, if you have not lived with and have not had sexual intercourse with your spouse for over a year, that separation provides a No Fault ground for an absolute divorce. Your spouse does not have to agree to divorce, but you must prove the twelve-month separation.
  3. Adultery. Adultery is grounds for a fault-based divorce.. To prove that a spouse committed adultery, you must prove disposition and opportunity. Disposition means there is a desire or an inclination to engage in adultery. Opportunity means the at fault spouse spent time in a private place with the alleged paramour for a period of time that would have allowed for the adultery to occur. There is no waiting period for a divorce on the grounds of adultery, but you must provide evidence of disposition and opportunity. The simple admission of the cheating spouse is not sufficient.
  4. Cruelty and excessively vicious conduct. If one spouse abuses the other spouse, another person, or a minor (such as a child) and creates an unsafe living environment, this is grounds for a fault-based divorce. Cruelty also includes mental, emotional, and verbal abuse.
  5. Desertion. Desertion is considered a fault-based ground for divorce. There are two types of desertion—“actual” and “constructive”. Actual desertion means the spouse who leaves the marital home left without a justifiable reason, the desertion has continued for twelve months, the desertion is deliberate and final, there has been no cohabitation, and there is no reasonable hope or expectation of reconciliation. Constructive desertion is when a spouse leaves for a legitimate reason, where the spouse left behind is the one at fault. It includes the same requirements as desertion, except the spouse who stayed is alleged to have “deserted” the marriage.
  6. Imprisonment for a crime. If your spouse has been convicted of a crime, received a sentence of over three years, and has served at least twelve months of their sentence, you can file for divorce in Maryland.
  7. Insanity. If your spouse has a permanent or incurable form of insanity, this is grounds for a divorce in Maryland. The insane spouse must be admitted to a mental institution, hospital, or similar institution for at least three years, there must be testimony from at least two physicians who are competent in psychiatry who testify that the insanity is incurable and there is no hope of recovery, and one spouse must be a resident of Maryland for at least two years.


Divorce is complex and requires the knowledge and skills of an experienced family law attorney. If you have questions about divorce, please contact Turnbull, Nicholson & Sanders, P.A. at (410) 339-4100 or Our team of family law attorneys is here to help guide you.

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