An annulment means that the court has decided the marriage was never valid. Vermont's laws on annulment are found at 15 VSA § 511-520.

Grounds for an Annulment

These are the legal grounds (reasons) to have a marriage annulled in Vermont:

  • Bigamy:  One spouse is currently married to someone else.
  • Consanguinity or Affinity:  The spouses are too closely related to be married. A person may not marry their parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, sibling, sibling’s child, or parent’s sibling.
  • Force:  One spouse was coerced or threatened into getting married.
  • Fraud:  One spouse lied or hid information to convince the other spouse to marry.
  • Mental incapability:  One spouse did not have the mental capability to enter into the marriage. Examples of mental incapacity include severe psychiatric, cognitive, or other severe mental disability.
  • Physical incapacity:  One spouse is physically incapable of consummating the marriage.
  • Under age:  One spouse was under age 16 at the time of marriage.

There may be other grounds, and additional conditions. Talk to an attorney if you have questions about annulment. See the Finding Legal Help web page for information about the ways to get the help of an attorney.

Court Process for an Annulment

File your completed forms with the family division of the Superior Court . See the Filing Procedures web page for more information about filing.

The judge will review the documents you file to determine whether you have met the standard for an annulment. If you meet the standard, court staff will discuss with you the process of serving the other party. See the Serving Papers web page for more information.

If you do not meet the standard for an annulment, your case will be closed. Other options you might have include divorce or legal separation, or civil union dissolution, depending on your situation.

After the judge reviews your filing and the service papers on the other party, the process for preparing the case and holding a hearing is similar to that for a divorce case or parentage case

Issues of parental rights and responsibilities, child support, and property division can also be addressed by the court in an annulment case. You and your partner may be required to participate in a self-represented litigant education program, a parenting course, or both. A case manager conference may also be scheduled. The court may also require that you attend mediation to try to work through disagreements. Unlike with divorce, in an annulment case, the court will likely require a hearing with evidence given as to the grounds for annulment, even if you both agree on all of the issues. This is because the law requires that the judge make findings based on evidence for the grounds for an annulment, in addition to the parties’ “say so” [15 V.S.A. § 518].

Effects of an Annulment

An order granting annulment of your marriage means that you were never legally married to your spouse. Even though you were never married, the judge can still decide on the same issues during an annulment as during a divorce. This includes parental rights and responsibilities (custody), parent–child contact (visitation), child support, spousal maintenance, and property division.

Children of annulled marriages have the same rights as children of valid marriages. They have the right to be supported by both parents and can inherit from both parents.