Like divorce, annulment is a means to end a marriage. Unlike a divorce, however, when an annulment is complete, the marriage is considered to have never existed in the first place. In many cases, people opt for annulments for religious or social reasons, but there are other benefits to annulments over divorce, as well. It’s important to understand that are many more restrictions to annulments compared to getting a divorce. Anyone who wishes to seek an annulment for their marriage in Maryland must meet the following legal grounds: • One spouse coerced the other to get married, with that other spouse being under duress • One spouse convinced the other to marry him or her in a fraudulent manner • One spouse is considered mentally incapable of handling or consenting to a marriage • One spouse was already married at the time of the marriage • The spouses are more closely related than first cousins • One spouse is younger than 18, unless the underage spouse is 16 or 17 and had parental consent, or the underage spouse is 15 and pregnant and had parental consent These rules are specific to Maryland — other states set their own rules for annulments and divorces. Some of these circumstances come with additional requirements. If, for example, a spouse wishes to seek an annulment because he or she was coerced into getting married, that coercion must have existed at the time of the ceremony. The spouse must have been in fear of great bodily harm for that coercion to be considered valid. In addition, if the innocent spouse continues to live with the other spouse after having discovered the existence of a fraud on which the marriage was based, that ground for an annulment (fraud) may be waived. To learn more about the various grounds for annulment in Maryland, work with a dedicated La Plata divorce attorney at Mudd, Mudd & Fitzgerald, P.A.