Couples in Omaha who no longer want to be married sometimes want to know whether they should seek a divorce or annulment. People often think that an annulment is preferable to a divorce for different reasons. Sometimes those reasons are based on the person’s religion, but a preference for an annulment can also arise from concerns about the social stigma of divorce. Can a person choose whether to get a divorce or annulment in Omaha, NE?
Seeking A Divorce or Annulment in Omaha, NE
It’s a common misconception that if you’ve been married for a short period, you can ask the court to annul—or erase—your marriage. While there are certain limited situations where an annulment is appropriate, most couples need to ask the court for a traditional divorce.
Nebraska is a “no fault” state so neither spouse has to show any specific fault in order for the Court to divorce the parties. As long as you meet residency requirements, especially that one spouse has resided in Nebraska for at least one year, and can testify that the marriage is “irretrievably broken” the Court will likely grant your request for the divorce.
If there are unresolved issues on child custody, visitation, child support, alimony, or property division, the court will decide how to handle the disputes before entering a final judgment. There are times when the Court can decide the divorce issue itself but not the custody or property issues. This is somewhat rare but happens when a child is living outside of the State of Nebraska or there is real property located in another state or another country.
When a spouse would like to go forward with a divorce in Nebraska but neither party has lived in Nebraska for one year, the spouse may be able to file a Legal Separation to start the case. You can convert the Legal Separation action into a divorce action after the one-year residency requirement is met during the Legal Separation action.
In states that have a “fault” divorce, a “fault” divorce is only granted when one spouse can prove adequate grounds. Like an annulment, these grounds vary from state to state; however, there are some overarching commonalities. The major grounds for fault divorce are listed below:
- Adultery – one or both spouses engages in extramarital relationships with others during the marriage
- Desertion – one spouse abandons the other, physically and emotionally, for a lengthy period of time
- Physical/Emotional Abuse – one spouse subjects the other to physical or violent attacks or emotional or psychological abuse, such as abusive language and threats of physical violence
Because Nebraska only has “no fault” divorce, a spouse doesn’t have to prove any of the “fault” grounds to divorce. That is not to say that these types of acts won’t come up in a “no fault” divorce. These types of behaviors can become important factors when the court determines alimony or child custody.
There are two types of annulments: civil and religious. Religious annulments are granted by a church or religious institution and do not terminate a legal marriage. A civil annulment, on the other hand, ends your marital status. Your state can issue a civil annulment if you meet the legal requirements. You must request this type of annulment through your local court, the same way you would file for divorce.
The two procedures are not that similar in terms of the outcome. With an annulment, a court will conclude that your marriage was invalid or void from the beginning. With a divorce, a court recognized your marriage as legal, but then terminates your marital status, while deciding issues of property, support, and child custody.
What Are the Grounds for Obtaining an Annulment?
Each state has its own rules. In Nebraska, an annulment action is brought in a similar manner as a divorce but the one-year residence requirement does not apply. Instead, the spouse who files for the annulment (Plaintiff) must just be a resident of the county in Nebraska where the action is filed when the action is filed.
In Nebraska, there are four grounds that allow an annulment:
The marriage is prohibited by law:
- Underage: Either spouse can seek an annulment if one spouse or both spouses was under the legal age to consent to the marriage. In Nebraska, this is 17 years old. However, both spouses may waive their annulment claim if they continue to live together after reaching the age of consent.
- Unsound Mind: You can file for an annulment if either you or your spouse was not mentally competent to enter the marriage relation. This could be due to being too impaired by drugs or alcohol at the time of your marriage. A judge will also grant an annulment if either spouse lacked the mental capacity to adequately consent to the marriage.
- Relatives: Occasionally the national news carries headlines of spouses later finding out they are closely related. In Nebraska, marriages between close relatives are void and may be annulled.
Impotent/No Consummation of Marriage
One spouse can file for an annulment if the other spouse is physically unable to have sexual intercourse and did not disclose this fact at the time of marriage.
It’s illegal to be married to two people at the same time. If your spouse was still married at the time you were wed, you can seek an annulment on bigamy grounds.
Fraud or Force
- Fraud or Misrepresentation: Fraud occurs when one spouse hides or misrepresents an essential fact of the marriage such as the ability to have children or significant financial debts. Spouses waive their right to claim marriage fraud if the innocent spouse found out about the fraud but did not immediately separate from the offending spouse.
- Force: A shotgun wedding creates a voidable marriage in Nebraska. If one party only said “I do” under fear of harm, the court will likely grant an annulment if brought timely.
Divorce or Annulment
Your state law and particular situation will determine whether or not your annulment or divorce will be simple or complex. Familiarizing yourself with the laws for your particular state is the best way to learn what your rights are in the case of a marital dissolution and help you determine whether an annulment vs. divorce is right for you.
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If you are facing a:
- child custody, or child support action
Shouldn’t you hire a divorce and family law attorney in Omaha you can count on? Because trial is not always the best option, our clients also count on us to fight for them at all the pretrial stages of their case. We work to resolve issues outside of the courtroom when possible to keep costs low and tensions to a minimum.
If you are faced with a divorce, child custody, child support action or any other family law cases in Omaha, contact Fowler & Kelly Law, LLP, the best Divorce Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska