There are a variety of reasons why a couple might seek an annulment rather than a divorce, ranging from religious values to the fact that they just don‘t like the sound of the word divorce. The purpose of an annulment as opposed to a divorce is that an annulment renders a marriage void, as if it never happened, whereas a divorce dissolves the marriage. Unfortunately, those who seek an annulment in New Mexico are most likely going to be disappointed.
Unlike a divorce, which can be filed in New Mexico for any reason or no reason at all under the “no-fault” divorce doctrine, an annulment can be filed for only very limited reasons. In New Mexico, a marriage can only be annulled by the Court if the marriage violated one of the requirements for a valid marriage from the beginning of the marriage.
For instance if one of the spouses was not old enough to property consent to the marriage, then the marriage is invalid as a matter of law. A person must be 18 years old to consent to a marriage unless they are 16 or older and have parental consent. A person younger than 16 is only allowed to marry by an order of the New Mexico Children‘s Court. Likewise, a person may lack the mental capacity to consent. Other legal prohibitions making the marriage invalid from the inception are the presence of incest or bigamy.
The presence of fraud can also be a grounds for annulment. However, this typically relates back to one of the aforementioned criteria. While it is conceivable that another situation might lead the Court to grant an annulment on the basis of fraud, the grounds for an annulment are very narrow. Unfortunately, fraud does not include such grounds as “he/she said he/she was rich,” or “he/she is a completely different person now that we are married.” That‘s not fraud. It‘s just bad luck, bad taste or bad judgment.