Definition: In Minnesota, a marriage may be deemed void by a Court-decreed annulment. An annulment is a declaration that a marriage never existed. Annulment and dissolution of marriage (divorce) are not the same thing. A divorce proceeding addresses the parties future marital status and rights, whereas an annulment declares that what had appeared to be a valid marriage was never, in fact, a marriage at all.
Grounds: Only marriages that are void or voidable may be annulled. In Minnesota, an annulment will be granted only on the basis of one or more of the grounds enumerated by statute, and fraud may be grounds for an annulment.
Time Frame (statute of limitations): Filing for annulment is very time sensitive. A party will have only 90 days to file an annulment from the time the party received knowledge about their husband’s/wife’s purported fraud. If the annulment proceeding is not brought within this 90 day period, then a Minnesota marriage is no longer considered a voidable marriage and cannot be annulled.
Minnesota Case Law on Fraud and the “Essence of Marriage”: Minnesota case law instructs the Court how to determine fraud for the purposes of annulment. “Concealment or deception by one of the parties as to defects of character, morality, chastity, habits and temper are not grounds for annulment.” This rule comes from the case Robertson v. Roth, which is the case law Minn. Courts use in annulment proceedings regarding fraud. This case explains that, “Concealment in order to annul a marriage must go to the very essence of the contract.” The essence of marriage and fraud generally refer to cases involving false representation with respect to sexually transmitted diseases, hiding the fact of pregnancy of another man at the time of marriage, or hiding information regarding marital status (meaning a person is married to another person at the time of a subsequent marriage). The essence of marriage generally refers to the sexual relationship of the marriage.
Fraudulent nondisclosure of past debts, misrepresentation of employment, false degrees, etc. may not meet the criteria for an annulment. Minnesota Courts may characterize this type of fraud as mere flaws in personality and not essential and material elements on which a marriage relation exists.
Minnesota Divorce Lawyers
At Clausen & Hassan, our Minnesota divorce lawyers have experience with annulments and relevant state case law. If you have questions, contact us today for your free consultation about your specific situation.