Last Updated On: October 10, 2023

Am I Entitled to an Annulment in New York if My Marriage Has Not Been Consummated?

Can you get an annulment if you don’t consummate the marriage?

In the context of marriage and family law, entering into a sexual relationship, usually the first sexual act after the marriage, is referred to as consummating the marriage. While consummating a marriage may be relevant in some states, religions, and circumstances, under New York law, there is no legal requirement for a couple to consummate their marriage in order to make it legally valid. Consequently, under New York civil law, an individual may not obtain an annulment if the marriage was not consummated unless under very specific circumstances.

If you are considering an annulment, it is important to understand the requirements under the law. Getting the guidance of an experienced Manhattan annulment attorney is essential so you understand if you qualify for an annulment and what your responsibilities are. Call Juan Luciano Divorce Lawyer today at (212) 537-5859 to schedule a consultation.

What is an Annulment in New York?

From a legal perspective, an annulment is a procedure that effectively cancels a marriage. While a divorce ends a valid marriage, an annulment essentially erases it and makes it void.

There are two different types of annulments in New York. One, a void marriage, is where the marriage was not valid in the first place. The other, a voidable marriage, erases a legally valid marriage. In both cases, it is as if the marriage never existed, and both partners can consider themselves never legally married.

While a void marriage is one that was never legal in New York to begin with and is automatically void under state laws, a voidable marriage requires grounds for annulment. In New York, there are five grounds for annulment:

  • At least one of the parties was under the age of 18 at the time of the marriage and the appropriate parental or judicial consent was not obtained.
  • One spouse could not consent to marriage because of a mental incapacity.
  • One spouse suffered from an incurable mental illness for a period of five years
  • Consent for marriage was obtained through coercion, force, duress, or fraud
  • One spouse lacked the physical capacity to consummate the marriage. This must have been discovered after the marriage took place. Annulment in this case is only an option within the first five years of marriage.

Consequently, grounds for an annulment due to non-consummation is more nuanced than many often believe.

Grounds for Annulment Details
Party under 18 without proper consent At least one party was under 18 at the time of marriage without appropriate parental or judicial consent.
Mental incapacity One spouse couldn’t provide consent due to mental incapacity.
Incurable mental illness One spouse suffered from incurable mental illness for five years.
Consent obtained through coercion, force, duress, or fraud Marriage consent was obtained through methods such as coercion, force, duress, or fraud.
Inability to consummate within 5 years One spouse lacked the physical ability to consummate the marriage, discovered within the first five years of marriage.

What Does Consummate the Marriage Mean?

In the traditional context of marriage, “consummation” denotes the act of physically culminating the marital bond. This act is often perceived as a significant rite of passage within the marriage journey, although it isn’t compulsory from a legal perspective. The consummation of a marriage symbolizes more than just a physical act; it embodies the profound expression of love, commitment, and intimacy between two individuals. Moreover, it helps solidify the bond and often signifies the couple’s aspiration towards starting a family.

The act of consummation within a marital framework specifically refers to the first instance of sexual intercourse between the couple after their wedding ceremony. This act is often seen as the final, definitive step in the process of two individuals becoming one in the context of marriage. It symbolizes the ultimate personal and emotional connection between the two parties, forming a deeper bond.

While consummation is not a legal prerequisite for a marriage to be valid, it’s important to note that the occurrence or non-occurrence of this act can have significant legal implications. For instance, if either spouse was incapable of engaging in sexual intercourse at the time of marriage but was ignorant of this condition, the marriage may be subject to annulment.

Responsibilities Despite Annulment

Even though an annulment basically erases a marriage, there are still legal obligations and responsibilities that both spouses have to their children and each other. Children born of an annulled marriage are still considered legitimate in the eyes of the law and both parents are still legally responsible for their physical, emotional, and financial care. Consequently, the court may impose custody, support, and parenting time requirements.

Any property or assets that were acquired during the marriage may also be considered by the court for equitable distribution between the two spouses.

If you are considering seeking an annulment in New York, you should get the guidance of a skilled New York annulment attorney to understand the requirements for annulment as well as your legal rights and responsibilities. At the offices of Juan Luciano Divorce Attorney, we have dedicated our careers to family law and fiercely protecting the rights of our clients. Call us at (212) 537-5859 or contact us online to schedule a no-cost consultation.

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