Annulments and prohibited marriages are two different concepts. A prohibited marriage is void. Because the marriage was never lawful, generally there’s no need to get an annulment or divorce. Some common types of prohibited marriage in the U.S. are bigamous marriages and incestuous marriages.
An annulment isn’t a void marriage, just a voidable marriage. For example, a 14 year old girl who marries a 30 year old without parental or court permission would be able to void her marriage. An annulment and a divorce both end marriage. An annulment is like getting a “do over” where it’s as if the marriage never happend at all. For some people, this is important for religious reasons. However, you often have to get an annulment within a certain time period, such as six months after discovering a condition, like impotence.
The following chart explains the main annulment and prohibited marriage laws in New Mexico.
|Code Sections||New Mexico Statutes Sections 40-1-7: Incestuous Marriages and 40-1-9: Prohibited Marriages|
|Prohibited Marriages||New Mexico prohibits marriages of underage persons, except under some circumstances, and incestuous marriages. Prohibited incestuous marriages are those between ancestor and descendant, brother and sister, uncle and niece, and aunt and nephew, whether whole or half blood, legitimate or illegitimate.|
|First Cousins||First cousins can legally marry in New Mexico without age limits, unlike some states like Arizona which permit only for older adults, or states that prohibit entirely, like Texas.|
|Bigamous Marriage||Marrying someone when you know you’re still married to someone else, that it is knowingly being married to at least two people at the same time, is bigamy. Bigamy is a fourth degree felony in New Mexico.|
|Same-Sex Marriage||Same-sex marriage has been legal in New Mexico since December 2013. It was never prohibited by constitutional or statutory amendment. The U.S. Supreme Court subsequently made same-sex marriage available in every state with its 2015 decision in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges.|
|Common Law Marriage||New Mexico doesn’t recognize common law marriages.|
|Grounds for Annulment||A marriage between prohibited relatives or underage won’t be declared void or annulled except by a court order.|
|Time Limits for Obtaining Annulment||A minor can ask the court for an annulment of a marriage they entered into underage, as long as it’s before they become a legal adult at 18.|
|Legitimacy of Children||Children are “legitimate” even if the marriage is declared void. However, since today illegitimate children are a constitutionally protected group and society no longer ostracizes them, this isn’t as important now as it once was.|
If you’re concerned about the validity of your marriage, especially for same-sex marriages which have been in a state of flux around the country, then you should contact an experienced New Mexico family law attorney. You should also speak to a divorce lawyer if you’re wondering if you’re eligible for an annulment instead of a divorce. A lawyer can inform you of your legal options and their potential legal and financial consequences.
Note: State laws, including New Mexico law, change frequently. Please contact a lawyer or conduct your own legal research to verify these marriage laws.
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