Though it is rare, in some cases a married person need not go through divorce to end his or her marriage. Some marriages are illegitimate under New York State law, and are either void or voidable.
In terms of family law, a “void” marriage is one that the court does not allow to continue, and considers never to have taken place. A “voidable marriage” is one that was similarly unlawful, but requires the action of one of the spouses to end.
If one of these grounds exist, a spouse will be able to get an annulment, which means that legally, the marriage never existed. This means that there is no marital property to divide, which can have important implications for each spouse’s financial position after the marriage dissolves.
Bigamy is one valid reason for annulment. New York does not allow a person to get married if he or she is still married to someone else. Recently, authorities accused a Bronx woman of being married to up to eight men at once, and marrying a total of 10 men between 1999 and 2010. The woman apparently did not disclose her marital history on her most recent marriage license. She is facing criminal charges, according to ABC News.
This is an extreme case, but when someone gets married while still married to a third person, the second marriage is void.
Other reasons a marriage could be void or voidable include cases of incestuous marriage, fraud, duress, intoxication, lack of mental capacity and inability to consummate the relationship.
As we implied at the top of this post, an annulment is more difficult to obtain than a divorce, though it is possible to get your marriage annulled under certain circumstances. To see whether you might qualify for an annulment, speak with a divorce attorney.