Rhode Island Annulment and Prohibited Marriage Laws
Adults are mostly free to marry whomever they choose, including same-sex couples in a growing majority of states, but not all unions are considered legitimate. Each state has laws governing which marriages are legal, which are prohibited, eligibility for annulment, and other legal aspects of matrimony. The types of marriages often prohibited by state laws include those entered under duress, unions between close relatives, and marriages in which one party is still married to another individual.
Annulment is different than divorce in that it has the legal effect of "erasing" the marriage as if it never existed. You may seek an annulment if the marriage should not have been granted in the first place, but you need to seek a divorce if the marriage doesn't work out (and is legally valid).
Rhode Island has permitted Domestic Partnerships since 2002 and recognized the marriages of same-sex couples from other states. A 2011 bill created Civil Unions for same-sex couples and was later superceded by a 2013 bill legalizing same-sex marriage within the state. In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges held that bans on same-sex marriage and refusal to recognize the same-sex marriages entered into in other states were unconstitutional.
Annulment and Prohibited Marriage in Rhode Island at a Glance
While Rhode Island statute does not offer a provision for annulment, courts will invalidate marriages under certain circumstances. These include incest (partners who are closer in relation than first cousins), bigamy (unresolved earlier marriage), mental incompetence, and refusal to consummate the marriage. This requires the parties to go through the divorce process, even though the marriage will be invalidated with the same effect as an annulment.
The following chart lists additional details on Rhode Island laws regarding annulment and prohibited marriage. See FindLaw's Marriage Law section to learn more.
|Code Sections||15-1-1, et. seq.|
|Grounds for Annulment||No statutory provision for annulment (but marriages may be invalidated by the courts under certain circumstances)|
|Time Limits for Obtaining Annulment||-|
|Legitimacy of Children||-|
|Prohibited Marriages||Bigamous; marriage where either party is mentally incompetent at time of marriage absolutely void; between ancestor and descendant, stepparent and stepchild, parent-in-law and son- or daughter-in-law; parent or parent-in-law and son- or daughter-in-law, brother and sister, uncle and niece, aunt and nephew; special exceptions for Jewish marriages allowed by Jewish religious law|
Note: State laws are subject to change at any time through the enactment of newly signed legislation or other means, including decisions from higher courts. You should contact a Rhode Island family law attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Research the Law
- Rhode Island Law
- Official State Codes - Links to the official online statutes (laws) in all 50 states and DC.
Rhode Island Annulment and Prohibited Marriage Laws: Related Resources
- Annulment and the Law
- Legal Requirements of Divorce in Rhode Island
- Rhode Island Family Laws
- Questionnaire: Are You Entitled to an Annulment?
- Find a Family Law Attorney
You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.
Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney
Contact a qualified attorney.