It is not uncommon for people who are unhappy with their current relationship to wish they had never gotten married. It is less common for people who are in this situation to realize they are not actually married. 

However, there are certain circumstances where people or couples who thought they were legally married find out their relationship is prohibited under New Mexico law. Rather than getting a divorce, these people can get a court order declaring their marriage void. Until 2013, this was known as an annulment, and most people still use that term when they are talking about the process even though it no longer appears in the New Mexico state statutes. 

Getting a marriage voided (aka annulled) is different from getting divorced, but it is still important to work with an experienced family law attorney who can help guide you through New Mexico’s family court system. Attorney Bob Matteucci is ready to help you take whatever steps are necessary to sever the legal ties binding you to your partner so you can move forward with your life. 

What is Annulment? 

An annulment is a legal decree that a marriage is void. It is a legal process that erases instead of undoes a marriage because the underlying relationship is not one the government sanctions. From a legal perspective, the marriage never occurred.

Can You Get an Annulment in New Mexico? 

New Mexico removed the term annulment from our state laws in 2013, but under NM Stat § 40-1-9, a marriage is void (which most people still refer to as an annulment) if: 

  • One or both spouses are underage and our state law governing underage marriage was not followed; or 
  • An incestuous relationship exists between the parties. This includes relationships between grandparents and grandchildren of all degrees; between brothers and sisters of full blood or of half blood; between uncles and nieces; and between aunts and nephews.

A person in one of these relationships, a friend or family member, or the district attorney may ask a court to declare such a marriage void. 

Unlike most New Mexico divorces, which are no-fault cases where the parties only disclose they want to separate and do not need to state why, parties seeking to void or annul a marriage must prove to the court such action is warranted. This means evidence like birth certificates, marriage licenses, and other evidence that proves the marriage is void must be shared in court. 

What’s the Difference Between an Annulment and a Divorce? 

An annulment is different from a divorce. A divorce terminates a marriage on the day it is granted. An annulment states that the marriage was illegal and invalid from the beginning, and treats the couples as if their marriage had never taken place.

Couples can get divorced without sharing the reason for their split thanks to New Mexico’s no-fault divorce law. This gives families some degree of privacy and control over their situation. Anyone seeking to get their marriage voided or annulled must prove to the court that their relationship is improper. This puts allegedly illegal relationships on full public display. 

Why Might You Want an Annulment? 

Ending a romantic relationship is always difficult. But realizing your marriage was illegal, and wanting to legally distance yourself from the person everyone assumes is your spouse is on a whole different level.

Presenting evidence that you are underage or in an incestuous relationship can be difficult. And may draw unwanted attention. But getting your marriage voided or annulled can validate the concerns you have with the relationship, and empower you to take back your life. 

It is often wise to seek support from a therapist or counselor in addition to seeking legal help if you are getting a marriage voided. It is an emotionally complex process even though it is legally very straightforward. 

Seeking an Annulment for Religious Reasons 

There are also religious reasons to seek an annulment. (We’re looking at you, King Henry VIII!) And because New Mexico was predominantly Catholic for a couple hundred years, people in the Albuquerque area are often curious about getting an annulment instead of a divorce. 

However, there is a bright line separating church and state when it comes to annulments. Getting a marriage voided or annulled by a religious institution has no impact on the legal union. And vice versa. 

Attorney Bob Matteucci is happy to discuss the legal aspects of void or annulled marriages with you, but leaves questions best answered by religious leaders to those individuals. 

Serving Families with Dignity & Compassion 

If you are struggling to find a way to end your current relationship you are not alone. Many people are hesitant to get divorced, and a few discover they must instead get their marriage voided or annulled. 

Attorney Bob Matteucci can help you find a way to sever the legal ties binding you to your partner and begin to rebuild your life, no matter what your current situation. He will help you focus on the future so you can be at peace with your past. Please contact him today to schedule a meeting.