Here’s a super informative article by Steve Raiser, a partner attorney in NYC, discussing annulments and parental rights. After reading it, we found it super-informative, and we think you’ll feel the same way.

When a couple gets an annulment, it means the marriage is terminated because it was not valid. Couples can petition the court to terminate a marriage this way under several circumstances. Below is an overview of the law in these cases and how it affects parental rights.

Reasons For An Annulment

When one party requests an annulment, there must be a legal reason for the court to consider granting it. The premise behind an annulment is that the marriage was not valid to begin with, so it should be terminated. The court may grant an annulment under the following circumstances:

  • Bigamy

When one party is already legally married to another person.

  • Age

If one party was under the age of 18, the marriage may be annulled.

  • Incest

When the people in the marriage are related by blood.

  • Fraud

When one person was deceived in some way at the time the marriage occurred.

  • Incapacity

When the marriage occurred when one person was incapacitated and could not consummate the marriage. An annulment may also be granted if one party lacked the mental capacity t make sound decisions at the time of the marriage.

  • Force

One party was forced into marriage against their will.

How An Annulment Affects Parental Rights

When an annulment is granted, the court must consider the best interest of the children involved when determining parental rights. If the child has a good relationship with the father, the court may not alter paternal rights. This decision is evaluated on a case by case basis and is made at the discretion of the family court judge.

Giving Up Parental Rights Voluntarily

In some cases, the father may voluntarily give up his parental rights. He may not want to be a part of the child’s life or may feel it is in the child’s best interest if he is not involved in his upbringing. Some courts may order a father who gives up his parental rights to pay a lump sum for child support. This is a one time payment that excuses him from future payments and involvement in the child’s life.

Proving Paternity

When a marriage is annulled and the paternity of the child is in question, a DNA test may be ordered by the court. If the DNA test proves he is the father of the child, he may be granted the right to be involved in the child’s life. However, exceptions are made if the father is not suitable or is a danger to the welfare of the child. It is the job of the family court to always put the needs of the child first, no matter what the situation is between the parents.

There is a time period in which a couple can file for an annulment. In most states, the statute of limitations is based on the reason for the annulment and it may vary from state-to-state. If you are unsure if you are eligible to file for an annulment, contact a family law attorney for advice before filing any paperwork with the county court.

If you are seeking an annulment, you may benefit from speaking with an attorney experienced in family law. During a consultation, an attorney will review the reason for the request and advise you if an annulment is the best course of action. A attorney can also advise you regarding the fathers parental rights. Having an attorney to represent your interests in the dissolution of your marriage can make the legal process easier.