Void and Voidable Marriages in Maryland
The topic for examination today centers on a commonly misunderstand section of Maryland family law – void and voidable marriages. As the following sections will explore, void and voidable marriages are not considered legal marriages. Under certain conditions, a court of law may declare such marriages invalid.
Void Marriages in Maryland
Void marriages are marriages that contradict other Maryland laws. If two people enter into a void marriage, their actions are unlawful. Categories of void marriages include:
- Preexisting Marriage – If either party is still legally married to another person, they are not allowed to remarry;
- Familial Relationship – If the parties have a close blood relation – including parents and children – they are prohibited from marriage by law; and
- Mental Capacity – If either party is mentally incompetent, they do not have the necessary capacity to enter into a valid marriage contract.
In any of the categories above, the marriage is not valid and considered void. Any person can ask a court of law to declare a marriage void and invalid.
Voidable Marriages in Maryland
A voidable marriage in Maryland might seem to be a valid marriage at first glance. But further investigation yields certain deficiencies in the marriage contract or process. Categories of voidable marriages include:
- Minors – Either party was under the age of 18, absent certain exceptions;
- Consent – One party used deceit or intimidation to force the other party to consent to the marriage;
- Understanding – Either party was incapable of understanding the marriage contract and, thus, did not provide consent; and
- Authority – The marriage officiant did not have a valid license to perform marriages.
In any of the categories above, the marriage is valid, unless a court of law decides otherwise. Furthermore, only the victimized spouse may ask a court of law to declare the marriage invalid. It does not matter how long the parties have been married. The victimized spouse may ask a court of law to declare the marriage voidable at any time.
Annulments in Maryland
If a court of law declares a marriage void or voidable, it means that the marriage never really happened. Without an existing and ongoing legal marriage, neither party can pursue a divorce. Instead, the court may grant an annulment and effectively erase the void or voidable marriage.
In order to grant an annulment, the court must verify that the marriage is invalid. Then the court will declare the marriage void or voidable, depending on the case. During the annulment process, the court may also order certain stipulations for alimony and other support, child custody, property division and related considerations.
Let Us Help You Today
If you have legal questions about void marriage, voidable marriage or annulment, it can be incredibly helpful to consult with an experienced family law attorney. Based in Bel Air, Maryland, Schlaich & Thompson, Chartered can help you in matters of family, criminal and personal injury law. If you need legal assistance, contact us today to get started.