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As in any legal process, a marriage annulment requires the completion of certain legal forms. Annulment forms vary according to jurisdiction, with different countries and states each having their own laws and procedures for granting an annulment. Despite these differences, annulment forms typically request the spouse's identifying information along with the grounds for annulment. Area law may also require separate forms that address matters of financial settlement and child custody.
Annulment forms will usually contain a request for details of the marriage and a description of the grounds on which one or both spouses believes an annulment should be granted. Unlike no-fault divorces in some countries, annulments generally cannot be granted without one partner providing proof that a true, legal marriage never actually took place. Common grounds for annulment include fraud, concealment of some important fact, or the fact that one or both spouses was underage. Other grounds may be proof that the bride and groom are closely related, intoxication or some other form of mental incompetency at the time of marriage, or evidence that the marriage took place because one partner was forced into marriage or was under duress.
While annulments are typically granted to couples who have been married for a very short time, there are occasions when an annulled marriage lasted long enough for the couple to have children, acquire debt, or purchase assets. In such cases, the court may require additional annulment forms that include information about how the couple proposes to settle their financial and child rearing issues. In addition to these financial and child custody–related forms, the law may also require affidavits affirming that a spouse was legally served with the annulment petition. Individuals interested in a do-it-yourself annulment should obtain the necessary papers from the local courthouse. They may also wish to seek legal counsel if they have doubts about the arrangement or whether they have actual grounds for annulment.
Legal annulment is a separate and distinct process from a religious annulment. Different religious groups have varying standards and processes for annulment. In the Roman Catholic Church, for example, annulment is an exhaustive process requiring a great deal of paperwork. The types of annulment forms required for religious annulment are often very different than those required for civil annulment, although both types of annulment papers will usually require an explanation of the circumstances that could merit the granting of an annulment. In other churches, a long process involving written forms may not be required, but an individual wishing to remarry may need to provide details of a previous marriage to a religious council who may determine the legitimacy of the previous marriage.
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