In the District of Columbia, annulment of marriage has a limited scope. Specifically, marriage can only be annulled under the following circumstances:
(1) where such marriage was contracted while either of the parties was previously married a former spouse living, unless the former marriage had been lawfully dissolved prior to the marriage.
(2) where such marriage was contracted during the insanity of either party. If there is however voluntary cohabitation after the discovery of the insanity by either party – such may be ground for estoppel negating request for annulment.
(3) where such marriage was procured by fraud or coercion: False material promises, duress, and illegal manipulating all may be basis depending on the severity and materiality for annulment. Such are generally also basis for nullifying a contract in common law.
(4) where either party was matrimonially incapacitated at the time of marriage without the knowledge of the other and has continued to be so incapacitated: here if the marriage is not consummated and there was no disclosure prior to marriage of matrimonial incapacity then there is sufficient evidence or basis for annulment. If however there is disclosure prior to the marriage, this element of the annulment is waived.
It is important to distinguish matrimonial incapacity v. marriage not being consummated. That is, medical inability or incapacity is a basis for annulment – marriage not consummated due to all other reason and not due to incapacity – not a basis for annulment. Parties are capable and not medically incapacitated and yet not have consummated marriage must seek divorce not annulment.
(5) where either of the parties had not attained the age of legal consent to the contract of marriage. There is also an exception here: if there has been voluntary cohabitation after attaining the age of legal consent then request for annulment may be waived under this provision. The underage party still retains the rights to seek annulment not the parties who was at the age of majority or consent before marriage.
Generally, a decree or judgment annulling or dissolving a marriage or granting an absolute divorce, or terminating a domestic partnership, all may become effective 30 days after the docketing of the decree or judgment.
Parties however may waive appellate stay period by mutual waiver at the time the decree is issued and as such the decree will be effective and final upon issuance.
Refer to our DC Divorce Lawyer page for more information on DC Divorce and related issues.