You can get an annulment instead of a divorce if you can establish to the satisfaction of the court that the marriage was legally void, or legally voidable and has not been ratified. However, the annulment process is more complicated and more expensive than an uncontested divorce so in addition to the legal requirements you would want to consider if there is a special circumstance that makes it worth while to deal with additional complexity and additional expense to have the court determine that the marriage was not legally valid rather than just divorcing.
Annulment is where a marriage is void or voidable and the parties seek to be returned to the status of being single as if no marriage had taken place. A void marriage is a marriage that has a defect that can not be made valid by the actions of another party. A voidable marriage is a marriage that there was a legal impediment to the marriage at the time it was entered into that makes the marriage voidable but the impediment to marriage could be removed and the marriage ratified.
There is no specific statutory requirement for an annulment, so the courts look to case law in making a determination as to if a marriage can be annulled. Examples of circumstances in which an annulment may be granted include; where the other party has concealed his/her true identity before and after the marriage; where a party was legally married to someone else at the time of the marriage; where a party refuses to cohabitate or consummate the marriage; where the parties were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the marriage; where there was duress; where a party was pregnant with the child of another party at the time of the marriage; or where a party was underage to legally marry. The burden is on the party seeking annulment to establish the grounds for the annulment.
Florida is a no fault divorce state and practically favors divorce over annulment. The divorce process in Florida can be a relative simple one depending on the issues in a case and whether the parties are in agreement or seek to litigate those issues, while the annulment process will always include having to establish that the marriage was void, or voidable and has not been ratified, to the satisfaction of the Court. It depends on your specific situation whether an annulment offers you any advantages over a divorce. If you have questions about annulment please call us to discuss your situation on (786) 539-4935.