How To Get an Annulment in Texas

Updated January 5, 2024
9 min read
How To Get an Annulment in Texas

Introduction

Many people assume that marriage can only end in either divorce or death. However, in Texas, a couple can also legally separate through a marriage annulment. Annulments are not as well-known as divorce, as they are only an option for marriages in Texas that were never valid nor legal. In other words, an annulment makes it as if the marriage never legally existed in the first place. A judge will decide whether there are grounds for an annulment or whether the couple is instead required to go through the process of divorce.

For people navigating these types of separations, the process can seem complicated. However, the entire annulment process is governed by Texas annulment laws. In this article, we look at these laws in more detail and answer all there is to know about how to get an annulment in Texas, namely the terms and grounds of the annulment and marriage annulment time frame Texas.

What Is an Annulment?

An annulment is a form of legal separation that a judge grants to married couples whose marriage is deemed invalid. An "invalid marriage" refers to any marriage that was entered into under false pretenses. The legal proceedings of the annulment essentially make it as if the invalid marriage never occurred in the first place. After an annulment, both spouses will be single with no legal ties to the other person. Therefore, any couple that is not in a valid marriage can petition the courts and start researching how to file for an annulment in Texas.

Divorce vs. Annulment: What's the Difference?

In Texas, a divorce and an annulment are separate legal proceedings. Both are a legal form of separation in which two spouses split. However, when going through the process of divorce, courts recognize the initial marriage as legal and valid.

While this marriage did legally exist at one point, following the divorce proceedings, it has now legally ended. On the contrary, a marriage annulment in Texas refers to the termination of a marriage that was never legally valid to begin with.  

Grounds for an Annulment in Texas

Whether the judge decides that a marriage is annulled or not depends on the specifics of the marriage in question. To pursue an annulment, the marriage must be deemed invalid. According to the Texas family code, below are all the possible grounds under which a marriage may be eligible for an annulment:

  • Incest: If, after the marriage, it has been discovered that the two spouses are blood relatives, the marriage is considered invalid on the grounds of incest. To be considered an incest relationship, the spouses' relationship must be closer than first cousins, such as a parent (mother or father), sibling (brother or sister), aunt, or uncle.

  • Bigamy: If one or both of the spouses are already in legally binding marriages, this is considered bigamy. It is illegal for anyone to be in two marriages at once in Texas; thus, the second marriage is invalid and can be annulled. Alternatively, the second marriage can become valid if the prior marriage is dissolved.

  • Under the influence: If it can be proven that one of the spouses was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time the marriage took place, it may be considered invalid. This can usually only be used as grounds for an annulment if the intoxicated spouse has not voluntarily cohabited with their partner since the effects of the drugs/alcohol have worn off.

  • Under age: According to Texas law, the legal age for marriage without parental consent or a court order is eighteen. If it is found that a spouse enters a marriage when they are underage, the marriage is deemed invalid and offers grounds for an annulment. In these cases, the parent or guardian can file for an annulment on the minor's behalf.

  • Impotence: When one member of the couple is impotent and unable to have sex but conceals this from their new partner until after the marriage has taken place, this is deemed as an invalid marriage under Texas laws. For this to stand as grounds for an annulment, the inability to have sexual intercourse must be permanent.

  • Mental illness: Physical or mental reasons can sometimes be used as grounds for an annulment of a marriage in this state. For example, if mental illness causes one spouse to lack the capacity to either (1) choose to enter the marriage voluntarily or (2) understand what marriage is, the couple may be able to pursue annulment.

  • Force or duress: If one spouse has been coerced into the marriage by force or duress rather than entering it voluntarily, Texas law considers these examples as invalid marriages as long as the force or duress continues up until the time of the wedding ceremony.

  • Fraud: Cases of fraud include where one spouse lies about something essential to the marriage and also provides grounds for an annulment. Examples could include a prior concealed divorce, purposefully hiding information on his or her sterility, concealing an existing pregnancy, or refusing to have children despite agreeing previously to the contrary.

  • Waiting period violation: In the state of Texas, there is a mandatory waiting period of 72 hours between the issuing of a marriage license and the wedding itself. If there has been a violation of this waiting period and the couple married before the 72 hours passed, it can be used as grounds for annulling a marriage.

How Do I Get an Annulment in Texas?

To get an annulment in Texas, understanding how to file for annulment in Texas constitutes an essential first step. This process commences by filing a petition, officially termed "A Suit to Declare Void the Marriage of [Petitioner] and [Responder]" with the courts.

The individual filing for the annulment is henceforth known as the petitioner, and their spouse is referred to as the responder. This document is to be filed in the district where the spouses reside, and the appropriate forms for this process are typically available by reaching out to the county clerk's office. By taking this initial step, you essentially set in motion the annulment process in Texas, prompting the courts to review the submitted application documents.

It is important to note that it is not possible for any spouse to file a petition for a marriage annulment in Texas. Instead, an annulment can only be filed in the state if either:

  1. The spouses were married in the state of Texas;

  2. One or both of the spouses live in Texas and have lived there for at least 90 days.

The main purpose of the annulment petitions is to provide the courts with the necessary information regarding the lawsuit. Therefore, the spouse filing for the annulment needs to provide information such as the full names of both spouses and any children, the date that the marriage took place, and the date on which the married couple stopped living together.

Information on where both spouses live and whether the courts need to divide the property upon separation also needs to be stated. Where children are involved, annulment petitions are where the petitioner can ask for help from the courts in determining decisions on child custody, visitation rights, and child support payments.

After the petition has been filed and picked up by the courts, a decision will usually be made within a few weeks. The spouse filing the annulment can insist on a jury trial if the outcome is not in their favor.

How Long Do You Have To Annul a Marriage?

Spouses seeking an annulment in Texas need to be aware of the annulment in Texas time limit. According to state law, the annulment petition must be filed within 30 days of the marriage. If the petition is signed after this — even in cases where there are clear grounds for the judge to grant an annulment —the couple will need to go through a divorce instead. In these cases, it is best to contact a divorce attorney to discuss the available options. 

What Is the Cost of an Annulment in Texas?

Another complex question is how much is an annulment in Texas? The procedure, contrary to popular belief, is not free of charge. Any spouse seeking to file a petition for an annulment is indeed required to pay filing fees. These are standard fees imposed by government authorities to cater to the expenses of staff reviewing and storing the necessary documents. In Texas, the filing fee is approximately $300.

However, the cost of annulment doesn't stop at filing fees; there are also legal fees that need to be considered when pondering "How much is an annulment in Texas?". Some people may opt to file for an annulment without legal advice to keep these expenses minimal.

Still, it is strongly advised to seek the expertise of a legal firm well-versed in divorce law. Having such experts on your side helps ensure accurate paperwork completion and can alleviate some of the stress for the petitioner during this difficult period.

The annulment cost of appointing an attorney can greatly vary, largely influenced by the law firm's track record and experience. Typically, the legal fees for an annulment process may amount to at least $1,000. Consult reliable sources of information to learn more about the cost of annulment in Texas and other states. 

Conclusion

In Texas, an annulment denotes the invalidation of a marriage that was never lawful from the outset. Understanding how to get a marriage annulled in Texas is crucial, particularly because several unique circumstances, such as incest, bigamy, intoxication, mental illness, fraud, and duress, can qualify a couple for an annulment. These preconditions, however, don't automatically guarantee annulments.

The final verdict as to whether a marriage qualifies for an annulment ultimately rests in the hands of the judge. If the annulment is granted, the legal effect is as if the marriage never legally existed.

Article by
Alina Kalyna
Lawrina

Alina Kalyna is the Content Specialist at Lawrina. With her experience in content creation, Alina is adept at producing comprehensive and engaging content across various platforms. Her role at Lawrina involves generating high-quality content for the blog, guides, and other materials.

We use cookies to improve our website's work and deliver better services.