If you were tricked into marriage, can you get it annulled?

I married my wife in NC 13 years ago. The following year we had a son. A year later we moved to another county in NC. Then 10 years ago she told me  that she wanted us to renew our vows seeing as we were in a new county. I told her it didn’t matter that we were in a different county that we were still married but I did it anyway. Last week I found some papers of a divorce she filed with her first husband. The marriage was 16 years ago and lasted 2 years. The divorce papers said the divorce was official in 2000. She was apparently was still married to her first husband when I married her and she “forgot” to get a divorce until we moved here. She never told me about any of this. Is our original marriage void? Can she be arrested for this? Are we now married because of our vow renewal marriage? Can I get the vow renewal marriage annulled?

Asked on August 27, 2011 North Carolina

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

I can surely understand how upset you must be at the circumstances.  Let me first explain about annulment in North Carolina.  Annulment is granted in your state under very limited circumstances.  There are only a few grounds under which the court will allow it.  From what I have read it is unclear that the facts that you state here would give rise to grounds for annulment in your state.  Now, although the first marriage was void because she was still legally married to someone else, the second marriage was not.   I think that you should seek consultation about divorce rather than annulment.  But think about this: you have a son.  And although no one disagrees that your wife should have come to you and explained the circumstances as they really were, she may just have been scared to lose you and the family that you had,  Fear makes people do crazy things.  So take a deep breath and give the situation some thought.  Put yourself in her shoes.  You may think differently.  Good luck.


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