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Here’s a divorce case to illustrate marriage annulment in Maryland.

Arthur Hall met Patricia in 1966.  They were both separated and in the process of divorcing their respective spouses.  Patricia was divorced in 1967 and in 1968 Arthur received a copy of a divorce decree from his attorney.  Arthur and Patricia married in 1970.

But there was a glitch with Arthur’s divorce from Helen and, in 1973, he learned that it had been invalidated.  In 1974, Arthur and Patricia separated.  He filed for an annulment stating the marriage was void from the beginning since he was married to his first wife at the time of the marriage to his second wife.  Patricia counterclaimed for divorce.

The Court had the power to either annul the marriage or dissolve it by divorce.  Guess which one it chose.

The Court said:

“It is conceded that the parties entered into the marriage in good faith. Thereafter they pursued a rather normal marital relationship for almost four years during which time they sincerely believed they were legally married. An annulment of the marriage fails to recognize any marital relationship between the parties, while a divorce, on the other hand, does recognize the marital relationship. It can hardly be denied that a normal marital relationship did exist between the parties to this cause, even after Arthur obtained a divorce from his first wife in December 1973.  Under such circumstances this Court believes that the dissolution of the marriage by divorce is more appropriate than by declaring it annulled.”

Hall v. Hall, 32 Md. App. 363 (1976)

Maryland does not favor annulments and the courts believe that marriages should be preserved whenever possible.  However, certain marriages are defective from the beginning.

Void marriages include bigamous marriages and those between close relatives.

Voidable marriages are those that fail under contract law but can be made valid by the court.  For example, marriage to a minor is not legal, but the marriage might be ratified by the court when the minor reaches the age of majority.

Lemondrop.com has an article about a couple who had been living together in Germany and decided to get married.  Then they got into an argument almost immediately after the wedding.  It escalated into a big fight in which the groom began chasing the bride around with a knife trying to cut her hair.  She called the police and they gave her a restraining order.  They decided to get an annulment on the same day.  The groom spent what was to have been his wedding night in a homeless shelter.