Under certain limited circumstances, you may ask a judge to annul your marriage instead of granting a divorce. If an annulment is granted, in the eyes of the law it is as if your marriage never took place. Although there are exceptions, annulment of a marriage generally eliminates issues of alimony or equitable distribution of assets and liabilities.
To have your marriage annulled, you must prove to the judge that either your marriage is void because it was illegal from the beginning, or that your marriage is voidable because new information you learned since the marriage makes your marriage invalid. Annulments can be granted based on one or more of these grounds: bigamy (one spouse was already married and never legally divorced at the time of your marriage), consanguinity (the spouses are first-degree related to each other), coercion (one spouse was forced into the marriage), impotence (one spouse is unable to have sexual relations), impairment (one or both spouses had impaired judgment at the time of marriage, for example due to drug or alcohol intoxication or mental incapacity), gross misrepresentation (one spouse gave the other spouse fraudulent information about their identity or other significant facts).
You may be able to prove one or more of these annulment grounds but still be denied an annulment by a judge, particularly, if you consummated the marriage. If you are denied annulment of your marriage, you can still obtain a divorce from your spouse.
If you or someone you know need help with an annulment or a divorce, please contact an experienced divorce attorney.