Oregon Law Annulment

Annulment dissolves a marriage and returns the parties to an unmarried state, just as if the marriage had never taken place. Two types of marriages may be dissolved by annulment: Those that are void from the beginning, and those that are voidable. Unlike divorce, annulment is not guaranteed. If one party can prove the requirements for annulment have not been met, it will be denied.

Void Marriage. In Oregon, a void marriage is one that was never valid, either because one party was already married to someone else, or because the parties were too closely related. First cousins who are related through adoption rather than by blood may marry. First cousins may not marry if they are related by blood, and relations closer than first cousins may not marry under any circumstances.

All marriages in Oregon are registered with the Center for Health Statistics, or vital records office, including marriage that are later determined to be void. Although an annulment isn’t necessary to dissolve a void marriage – because, legally, it never existed – an annulment may help prevent confusion or complications in the future. When a void marriage is annulled, the annulment is effective as of the date of the marriage.

Void marriages are the only kind in which a third party may have standing to claim the marriage is invalid. For example, the Social Security Administration may try to prove a marriage was invalid and the surviving spouse is not entitled to certain benefits. Similarly, in some states, when a person dies intestate, or without having made a will, their entire estate goes to their spouse; if it can be proved the marriage was void, the spouse may be denied the inheritance.

Voidable Marriage. As the name suggests, a voidable marriage is one that may or may not be voided, depending on the specific circumstances. If the marriage is voided, the annulment will be effective as of the date the judgment of annulment is entered. If the marriage is determined to be valid and an annulment is not granted, a divorce will be required to dissolve it.

Voidable marriages are those in which either party was not capable of properly consenting to marriage, such as when they were not of legal age or were mentally incompetent, or if their consent was obtained through fraud or duress. While this kind of marriage may be determined to be invalid, it is also possible that a judge would rule the parties had ratified the marriage, or made it valid, through their later actions.

For example, if one of the parties was not of legal age at the time of the marriage but the parties continued to live together as husband and wife after he or she obtained legal age, it is likely the marriage would be considered to have been ratified. Similarly, if one party’s consent was obtained through fraud, but the parties continued to live together as husband and wife after the fraud was revealed, it is likely the marriage would be considered valid.

A voidable marriage ends when one party dies, regardless of whether it might have been proven invalid while they were still alive. Therefore, no third party, such as heirs or the Social Security Administration, may try to invalidate a marriage after one of the parties has died.

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