Mary Sue got married last week. You must have seen it—everyone in town was invited. She was radiant walking down the aisle, glorious at the reception … and devastated the next morning.

“I’ve made a horrible mistake,” she told her best friend. “Alan—I thought I knew him, but he’s a monster, a fiend. I can’t stay married to him.”

“Don’t worry,” Aunt Doris advised her over tea later that afternoon. “We’ll run down to the courthouse Monday and have this annulled right away. It was just one day, so it can be fixed in a jiffy.”

Mary Sue sighs with relief and helps herself to another lemon square.

Real life is different

This is how annulment plays out on television soap operas. In the real world, Aunt Doris and Mary Sue would be dreadfully disappointed. An annulment is neither simple or quick.

Popular culture has convinced many people that a marriage can usually be annulled easily. While some states have less restrictive rules than North Carolina’s annulment laws, annulments are still very rare—despite what you may have seen on television. In particular, the following beliefs are wrong:

  • Annulments are allowed if you have been married only a short time. Not true. You still must meet one of the few legal grounds for annulment, and it doesn’t matter at all how long you have been married.
  • Annulments are allowed if you have never had sex with your spouse after getting married. False. While impotence can be one of the possible grounds for annulling a marriage, intercourse in itself—or the failure to consummate the marriage—does not constitute grounds.
  • Annulments are allowed if you find out something bad about your new spouse only after you’ve been married. This is just a myth. The list of possible unfortunate discoveries about your new spouse is a long one, and includes mental illness, gambling addiction, drug addiction, felony conviction or a criminal record, massive debt, ambivalent sexual orientation, and other dire characteristics. None of these makes a marriage voidable in North Carolina.
  • Annulments are allowed if your spouse has been fraudulent or deceptive. Almost completely false. Deception is not valid grounds for annulment in North Carolina except in one specific situation: if a woman convinces a man that she is pregnant with their child, and the couple separates shortly after the wedding but no child is born within 10 months of the separation.

Regretting a hasty marriage

If you have been dismayed to find the person you married is not what you expected, you can explore options for ending the marriage. Contact Speaks Law Firm at 910-341-7570 or toll-free at 877-593-4233 as soon as possible to get your questions answered. One of our Wilmington family law attorneys will be able to tell you whether you qualify for annulment and can begin the paperwork on your behalf. If an annulment is not available for your circumstances, we can advise you on your options for a divorce in New Hanover County and other adjoining areas in North Carolina.

Call today. Your future happiness may depend on it.

R. Clarke Speaks
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Trial Lawyer and Founder of Speaks Law Firm, P.C.
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