Like a “void” marriage, a “voidable” marriage is grounds for an annulment. However, not all voidable marriages are annulled—and they don’t need to be.
Essentially, a voidable marriage is valid until one of the parties successfully petitions to have it declared void. A marriage is voidable if it violated a public policy when it was formed, but the policy was a lesser one than those causing a void marriage.
Marriages are usually considered voidable if one spouse was unable to legally consent to the marriage (due to being underage, insane, or intoxicated—Vegas wedding, anyone?), if one spouse intentionally deceived the other to bring about the marriage or forced the other into the marriage, if the couple unintentionally committed bigamy, or if one or both parties was physical unable to have sex.
A voidable marriage is different from a void marriage in that it can be validated, removing its voidable status. For that to happen, the marriage “defect” must cured. For example, if the problem was that one of the parties was underage, the marriage is validated and made legal for all purposes when that person reaches the age of consent for marriage. After that, the marriage can’t be annulled.
Unlike with a void marriage, a voidable marriage also can’t be annulled after the death of one of the parties.
Related: Annulment: Marriage was void
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