A marriage performed in Nevada is automatically “void” on either of two conditions: that the parties are related by blood any closer than second cousins; or if either party has “a former husband or wife then living.” If a marriage is void for one of these reasons, no decree of annulment or other legal proceeding is required to dissolve it. Nevertheless, parties in such circumstances often want a piece of paper declaring that the marriage was a non-marriage, and the court may make a “declaration of nullity of a void marriage” if asked to do so. Invalidation of a marriage on the grounds of bigamy “does not bar” prosecution for the crime of bigamy.
Generally, the law treats a void marriage as if it never happened. Under Nevada law, however, obtaining an annulment of a later marriage does not “revive” alimony payments due under the terms of an earlier divorce which were terminated by the second marriage.
A “voidable” marriage is considered valid until it is annulled upon the request of a party having grounds to make that request. Potential grounds to declare a marriage voidable are: (1) Lack of consent of parent or guardian (for a minor less than 18 years old); (2) Want of understanding; (3) Fraud; or (4) Grounds for declaring a contract void in equity.
A “want of understanding” claim could be based on gross intoxication, insanity, or mental disability, etc. Possible arguments underlying a “fraud” claim could be where there is concealment of an issue central to the concept of marriage, such as the inability or secret intent not to cohabit, have children, or have sexual relations.
It is the last category (“grounds for declaring a contract void in equity”) that encompasses many annulment claims in the modern era, based on such contract-like assertions as mutual mistake, undue influence, duress, negligent misrepresentation, etc.
When a marriage is voidable based on insanity, or fraud, an annulment may not be sought for those reasons if, after sanity is restored or the fraud has been revealed, the parties freely continue to cohabit together as husband and wife.
There is no precise time limit within which an annulment action must be brought. Case law states that when an annulment is granted after a purported marriage of significant duration, the property that the couple acquired during that time is to be equally divided. Nevada law provides that any children born of a marriage that is annulled are considered legitimate. Alimony, however, is apparently not to be awarded in annulment cases except upon findings of fraud or bad faith.
If the marriage to be annulled was performed in Nevada, there is no residency requirement. If the marriage to be annulled was performed outside of Nevada, then one of the parties must be a Nevada resident for at least six weeks before filing the action (the same rule as for divorce; see Grounds and Jurisdiction). There is some question as to the effective date of a decree of annulment granted upon one of the claims indicating that the marriage is voidable. Some cases indicate that the annulment is only considered to exist as of the date of the decree, but other case law indicates that when a voidable marriage is declared void by way of annulment, the marriage was void ab initio (i.e., from the date of marriage).
WILLICK LAW GROUP has litigated a number of annulment actions, from both sides, in a variety of factual contexts. Such cases can be complex and challenging, but careful investigation, preparation, and presentation often leads to a correct result.
Links to Other Web Sites
- NRS 125.290 – Void Marriage
- NRS 122.020 – Persons Capable of Marriage; Consent of Parent or Guardian
- NRS 125.440 – Judgment for Arrearages in Payment of Support (in annulment action)
- NRS 125.300 – Voidable Marriages: Causes for Annulment
- NRS 125.360 – Annulment of Marriage Contracted Within State: No Requirement of Residence
- NRS 125.370 – Annulment of Marriage Not Contracted Within State: Jurisdiction of District Court
- NRS 125.410 – Issue of Marriage are Legitimate
- Clark County Self-Help Center
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