Like divorce, annulment is the legal process for ending a marriage. But that's where the similarities end since annulment is only used to end an invalid marriage or one that "should not be recognized by the state," according to information provided by Illinois Pro Bono. Still, divorce attorneys in Chicago are qualified to answer questions you may have about annulments.
Annulments are rarely ever used in Illinois because it is much more difficult to prove grounds for annulment than for a dissolution of marriage (the legal term for divorce in Illinois), according to the Southern Illinois University School of Law (PDF).
But the "Declaration of Invalidity," the legal term in Illinois for annulment, is an important option should a marriage meet one of the four criteria laid out by state law (750 ILCS 5/301):
A party lacked capacity to consent to the marriage... either because of mental incapacity or infirmity or because of the influence of alcohol, drugs... or a party was induced to enter into a marriage by force or duress or by fraud...
A party lacks the physical capacity to consummate the marriage by sexual intercourse...
A party was aged 16 or 17 years and did not have the consent of his parents or guardian or judicial approval.
The marriage is prohibited.
In Illinois, according to Illinois Pro Bono, marriage is prohibited if it was entered into while one party was still married to someone else; the two parties are closely related, either by blood or adoption; or if the two parties are of the same gender.
While divorce is usually easier to obtain even if the marriage qualifies for annulment, the main benefit of an annulment is avoidance of court-imposed financial responsibilities, Illinois Pro
Bono states. However, couples have just 90 days "from the time you learn of the problem" to file for an annulment.