Scenario: A couple finds themselves involved in a whirlwind romance and are convinced they have found their soul mates. After two weeks of dating, they elope to Vegas and get married at a drive thru chapel. They come back home and realize they really don’t like each other that much after all. Can they just get their marriage annulled instead of going through the divorce process? Probably not.
Tennessee allows annulment in very limited circumstances. This speaks to the fundamental difference between a divorce and an annulment. A divorce is the end of a legal marriage. An annulment means that there never really was a marriage at all, and the whole thing is treated as void. In other words, in an annulment there was a substantial defect at the time of the marriage that was so strongly against marriage policy that it rendered the entire marriage void and invalid. A void marriage is no marriage.
The specific grounds for annulment have been developed, for the most part, through case law in the Tennessee courts. They are as follows:
- Incurable impotence that existed at the time of the marriage
- Failure to consummate the marriage
- Incestuous marriage
- Secret pregnancy at time of marriage
- Minor marries without consent from a parent or guardian
- Mental incapacity or insanity
- Marriage by fraud
- Marriage under duress, force, or threat of physical harm
- Limited purpose marriage