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Annulments in Kentucky

An annulment is a declaration by the Court that a valid marriage never existed.

Though not usually as complex as the dissolution of a long-term marriage, many of the elements and steps required are similar, if not the same.  The end result, however, is quite different.  Legally speaking, after an annulment, the parties were never married.

Most annulments take place after a marriage of a very short duration -- a few weeks or months, so there are usually no assets or debts to divide, or children for whom custody, visitation and child support are a concern. When a long-term marriage is annulled, however, most states have provisions for dividing property and debts, as well as determining custody, visitation, child support and alimony. Children of an annulled marriage are not considered illegitimate.

For some people, divorce carries a stigma, and they would rather their marriage be annulled. Others want an annulment because it may make it possible for them to remarry within their faith.  In such instances, a religious annulment may also be required.  You will need to consult with your priest, rabbi, imam or minister if you have questions on that point.

Roman Catholics who seek to remarry after a civil divorce must obtain an annulment of their previous marriage in a church court known as a Decree of Nullity or forfeit the right to take communion.

Under traditional Jewish law, only men can initiate divorce. They can divorce their wives for little or no reason although provision in the "ketubah" (or marriage contract) do protect certain rights. Jewish women must obtain a "get", a bill of divorce, from their husbands. If they remarry without one, they are considered to be adulterous and children from the marriage are considered illegitimate and barred from some Jewish marriages. Although the process is relatively simple, many Jewish women find themselves "agunah" (literally, anchored) in a Jewish marriage if their husbands refuse to issue a get or if husbands have deserted them and cannot be found.

Islam also has complex religious laws governing divorce.  Generally speaking, Muslims do not recognize civil divorce or annulment.

An issue to consider in deciding whether to seek an annulment or a divorce is that, if there is an annulment, there can be no duty of spousal support ("maintenance" or "alimony") since the parties were "never married".

Kentucky law permits the annulment of a marriage only in certain very specific circumstances:

  • If the marriage was obtained by force or fraud [KRS 402.030(1)]; OR
  • If the parties are more closely related by blood than second cousins [KRS 402.010(1)] (considered incest in Kentucky);  OR
  • If one of the parties has been adjudged mentally disabled by a court of competent jurisdiction [KRS 402.020(1)(a)]; OR
  • If one of the parties has a husband or wife living, from whom the person marrying has not been divorced (a bigamist) [KRS 402.020(1)(b)]; OR
  • If the subject marriage was not solemnized or contracted in the presence of an authorized person or society [KRS 402.020(1)](c)]; OR
  • If one party was under eighteen (18) but over sixteen (16) years of age at the time of the marriage, and the marriage was without the consent required by KRS 402.020(1)(f) and has not been ratified by cohabitation after that age [KRS 402.030(2)]; OR
  • If one party was under sixteen (16) years of age at the time of the marriage, if the marriage was not conducted with the permission of a District Judge as required by KRS 402.020(1)(f)(3) in the form of a written court order, and if the marriage has not been ratified by cohabitation after the person reached eighteen (18) years of age [KRS 403.030(3)].

Fraud is the most frequently cited basis for filing a Petition for Annulment.  Such an element would include:

  • One spouse failing to disclose to the other spouse critical information about important matters such as a previous marriage or a criminal record;
  • A spouse's desire have or to not have children which is inconsistent with the other spouse's desires and understanding;
  • A spouse having committed bigamy by being married to more than one person;
  • A spouse lying about his or her capacity to have children;
  • A party lying about his or her having reached the age of consent;
  • A party lying about his or her degree of blood relationship to the other spouse;
  • A spouse concealing an addiction to alcohol or drugs;
  • A spouse failing to disclose the existence of children from a prior relationship;
  • A spouse failing to disclose a sexually transmitted disease or impotency; or
  • A spouse's refusal or inability to consummate the marriage (i.e., will not or cannot have sexual intercourse with the other spouse).

Most annulments take place after a marriage of a very short duration -- a few weeks or months, so there are usually no assets or debts to divide, or children for whom custody, visitation and child support are a concern.

There are specific time limits which must be satisfied.  One must file for annulment within 90 days of discovering that grounds for an annulment exist.  That's not within 90 days of the marriage, but within 90 days of discovering, for instance, that your spouse is a bigamist.

If you decide you need an annulment, your case will require an initial personal consultation so that we can understand the facts of your case and advise you on your rights and duties.  We can provide an initial consultation for the rate stated on our main webpage, after which, in most cases, we can give you a good idea of whether you can expect to prevail in an annulment or if you need to pursue a different course, such as a divorce or legal separation.


The attorneys at Hoge Partners, PLLC would be happy to talk to you about the possibility of having your marriage annuled.  Give us a call today!