Idaho Annulment and Prohibited Marriage Laws

A prohibited marriage is void because the marriage was never lawful. Generally, there’s no need to get an annulment or divorce in these cases. Common prohibited marriages typically include bigamous marriages, meaning a person being married to more than one spouse.

What Is an Annulment?

An annulment is a way to void a marriage that would otherwise be valid. For example, a 16 year old who marries a 31 year old without parental permission could annul her marriage. While both an annulment and divorce end a marriage, an annulment wipes the slate clean as if there was no marriage to begin with. Some individuals want this for religious reasons. However, you usually need to get an annulment within a certain time limit, such as within one year of discovering a fraud or that your husband is impotent.

Annulment and Prohibited Marriage Laws in Idaho

The following table outlines the main annulment and prohibited marriage laws in Idaho.

Code Sections Idaho Code Title 32: Domestic Relations, Chapters 2: Marriage and 5: Annulment
Grounds for Annulment

Marriages can be annulled for any of these reasons:

  • Underage
  • Unsound mind (unless cohabitating after sanity restored)
  • Force or fraud (unless cohabits after)
  • Physically incapable (impotent)
  • Former spouse thought to be missing or dead comes back alive
Time Limits for Obtaining Annulment

The time limit for an annulment varies by the type of reason for annulment:

  • Underage – parent anytime before his or her child reaches adulthood, by person who married underage within 4 years of turning 18 years old
  • Force or impotence – Within 4 years of marriage
  • Fraud – Within 4 years of discovering the fraud
  • Unsound mind and spouse living – Anytime before death
Legitimacy of Children Children are considered legitimate, even if marriage is later annulled, except for fraud when the wife is pregnant with another man’s child. However, this isn’t as important now as it previously was as illegitimate children are constitutionally protected.
Incestuous Marriages Idaho prohibits marriages it considers to be incestuous, which includes marriages between ancestor and descendant, brother and sister (half and whole blood), uncle and niece, aunt and nephew, and first cousins.
Polygamous Marriage Marriages are considered polygamous or bigamous and invalid if the husband or wife were still married to another person. However, if a person’s spouse has been missing for five years and is generally believed to be dead, then he or she can remarry.
Same-Sex Marriage Same-sex marriage has been legal in Idaho since October 2014, following a 9th Circuit ruling that found the state's constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage violated the Constitution's equal protection guarantees. In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court found, in Obergefell v. Hodges, that state bans on same-sex marriage were unconstitutional employing substantially similar reasoning.
Common Law Marriage Idaho doesn’t recognize “common law” marriages entered into after January 1, 1996. However, for individuals still in marriage-like relationships predating 1996, there are four requirements:
  • Both spouses must have been over 18 years old and unmarried
  • Consented to maintain a married-like relationship
  • Assumed marital duties towards each other, holding themselves out as married
  • The consent and marital duties must have taken place while living in Idaho
Out-of-State Marriages

Marriages performed in other states are valid in Idaho if they were valid in the state or country in which they were contracted, unless they violate the public policy of Idaho. Previously, same-sex marriages were considered against public policy, but are now valid.

However, if you enter into a marriage elsewhere to evade Idaho’s marriage laws, they won’t consider your marriage valid. For example, if you want to marry your first cousin and travel to New Mexico where that’s permitted and then return back to Idaho, it won’t be considered valid.

If you’re considering an annulment or are otherwise concerned about the validity of your marriage, you should contact an experienced Idaho family law attorney. A good lawyer will inform you of your legal options and their potential consequences so you can make an informed decision on how to proceed.

Note: State laws change constantly. Please contact a lawyer or conduct your own legal research to verify these marriage laws.

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