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Dimitry K., Esq.
Dimitry K., Esq., Attorney
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Experience:  Multiple jurisdictions, specialize in business/contract disputes, estate creation and administration.
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My wife wants an annulment. Weve lived together for 7 years

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My wife wants an annulment. We've lived together for 7 years and eloped 10 months ago (a secret to our families...we wanted to have a wedding without mich just about us and not other people). We self officiated our marriage here in Wisconsin with two witnesses.
My wife says that she feels she has found her life's work and won't be able to be the wife I deserve because she feels her law career will take up so much time, she won't be able to devote any time to me. She wants an annulment instead of a divorce. She is a 2L (just started her second year.)

We have filed a joint tax return and she has health benefits under my emoployer. I want neither an annulment nor a divorce. We're both still in love. She just feels guilty about being so busy and seems to have fallen under the impression that all marriages in law school will fail.
We were planning another wedding on our anniversary We just sent out wedding invites. Her request came out of the blue. I am now contacting people to tell them the wedding is cancelled.

Can we even get an annulment?
If she insists, will she be able to claim half of the property if I get a divorce? (I have supported her since we lived tighter).
I want to work things out and feel she is being rash, but I know she knows more about the law, so I want to make sure I don't do anything rash and uninformed.
Thank you for your question. Please permit me to assist you with your concerns.

I am genuinely sorry that you are having such difficulties. Not all law school marries fail, in fact I have known quite a few happen during law school itself. A for an annulment, has your wife actually researched this yet? Does she know what an annulment is, and on what grounds is she seeking one?

PS. Not to disrespect your wife, but getting an annulment is far harder than a divorce, and only for a very few set of reasons. It is also unfortunate but true that law students (myself included) think they know far more about the law when in school than is the case. Before I respond I would love additional information on her reasons so I can double-check and provide you with actual authority on the subject. Thank you!
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
I asked her to give me some reasons. All she says is that there are new rules I can't find online. I do know that she thinks that we can't get an annulment after one year. I believe this may have to do with our wedding being self-officiated, which as far as I know can only be done in a few states. We stated our religious beliefs were Quaker in order to make a self-officiated marriage legal, although this isn't true. We are both agnostic. I considered myself Quaker for a day.

Thank you for your follow-up, Jeremy. Please allow me give you the information that you are seeking.

There are only a few reasons under Wisconsin law that can grant you an annulment. Those reasons are 'lack of capacity' to consent to the marriage (due to age, mental illness,substantial fraud to the cause of marriage, force or duress [think 'shotgun wedding'], or being under the influence of alcohol or drugs). In the case of being under the influence, once the influence was removed (ie, the person sobers up), if they remain in the marriage the ground is waived, since a condition of an annulment is to file for the petition right away after the condition is removed. In case of fraud, the fraud must go to the heart and spirit of the marriage, such as one person intentionally misleading the other that they were fertile and could have kids when they could not and th other person expressly wanted children.

Other grounds can include impotency and inability to consummate the marriage. This has to not be known ahead of the marriage, and the marriage cannot be solemnized for this ground to exist.

Another factor is 'minority', that is, if the parties (or one of the parties) is under 18 and did not have parental permission to enter the marriage, the marriage could be deemed voidable and could be annulled.

Finally, any reason that bars marriage from taking place would also be grounds for an annulment. If someone is married already, as a second spouse cannot be obtained (it would be bigamy), the marriage is void.

Based on your facts I do not see you qualify although there may be a basis if you haven't listed it. Here is the statute below to the law so you can review it for yourself:

Wisconsin Statutes 767.313 - Annulment


(1) Grounds; when suit may be brought. A court may annul a marriage upon any of the following grounds:

(a) A party lacked capacity to consent to the marriage at the time the marriage was solemnized, either because of age, because of mental incapacity or infirmity or because of the influence of alcohol, drugs, or other incapacitating substances, or a party was induced to enter into a marriage by force or duress, or by fraud involving the essentials of marriage. Suit may be brought by either party, or by the legal representative of a party lacking the capacity to consent, no later than one year after the petitioner obtained knowledge of the described condition.

(b) A party lacks the physical capacity to consummate the marriage by sexual intercourse, and at the time the marriage was solemnized the other party did not know of the incapacity. Suit may be brought by either party no later than one year after the petitioner obtained knowledge of the incapacity.

(c) A party was 16 or 17 years of age and did not have the consent of his or her parent or guardian or judicial approval, or a party was under 16 years of age. Suit may be brought by the underaged party or a parent or guardian at any time prior to the party's attaining the age of 18 years, but a parent or guardian must bring suit within one year of obtaining knowledge of the marriage.

(d) The marriage is prohibited by the laws of this state. Suit may be brought by either party within 10 years of the marriage, except that the 10-year limitation shall not apply where the marriage is prohibited because either party has another spouse living at the time of the marriage and the impediment has not been removed under s. 765.24.

(2) Judicial proceeding required; no annulment after death. A judicial proceeding is required to annul a marriage. A marriage may not be annulled after the death of a party to the marriage.

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