Unlike a divorce, where the parties were said to be legally married but the marriage is to be legally dissolved, an annulment involves a court ruling that a couple was never legally married. In other words, the marriage is declared legally void.
New York Domestic Relations Law Section 140 lists a number of grounds upon which a marriage may be annulled. One reason is where the former spouse of one of the spouses is still alive and the marriage is still in effect. A marriage can also be annulled where one of the spouses had not attained the age of consent, which is 18 years in New York. Another ground for annulment involves circumstances where one of the spouses suffers from a mental illness. Another ground is where “one of the parties was physically incapable of entering into the marriage state” and another involves cases where consent to marry was procured by fraud, force, or duress. NY CLS Dom Rel § 140.
Some of the above grounds for annulment can be brought before a court on behalf of one of the spouses. For example, for marriages subject to annulment on the ground that one of the spouses is still married, the former spouse can bring the action to annul the subsequent marriage. NY CLS Dom Rel § 140(a).
Children born to spouses whose marriage was nullified will still be entitled to child support and the couple will have an obligation to support the children. Furthermore, the law presumes that the children born to a couple whose marriage was annulled are the “the legitimate child[re] of both birth parents . . . .” NY CLS Dom Rel § 24(1).