Articles Posted in Annulment of marriage

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News stories about the complicated divorce proceedings of high-powered couples are nothing out of the ordinary in Florida. In many cases, the main complicating factor is the couple’s wealth.  It is not simple to divide a couple’s assets when they own many millions of dollars of property together. In the divorce of Alan Grayson (D-FL), a former member of the United States House of Representatives, from his ex-wife Lolita, division of property ended up being the least of the complicating factors in the case. In 2015, their marriage ended by annulment, not by divorce.

The Marriage(s) of Alan and Lolita Grayson

Alan Grayson and Lolita Carson married in 1986; it was a second marriage for both. The couple went on to have five children together. In 1990, Lolita Grayson applied for United States citizenship, and Alan Grayson saw her citizenship application before she submitted it. On the application, she listed her marital status as “separated.” More than 20 years later, during the couple’s divorce proceedings, it was revealed that Lolita was still legally married to her first husband at the time that she married Alan Grayson. In 2015, a judge annulled their marriage, declaring it void because of bigamy. In other words, the court declared that the couple had never been legally married because Lolita was legally married to someone else when she and Alan Grayson married each other.

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Mental incapacity plays an important role in many different family law matters. Cases alleging mental incapacity of one of the spouses can become complicated and adversarial. Because you cannot actually get into someone’s head and know what they were thinking at a particular point in time, gathering and presenting evidence of mental incapacitation can be complicated. The following are some examples of when mental capacity may be at issue in a Florida family law case.

Marriage

In order for a marriage to be valid, both individuals must be of sound mind, must understand the nature and effects of getting married, and must be mentally capable of agreeing to the marriage. Simply because one person has a mental condition does not automatically render them incapacitated for marriage purposes, but if a court decides one spouse did not have the capacity to agree to a marriage, that marriage will be deemed invalid.

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Congressman Alan Grayson of Florida has been in the midst of an extraordinarily acrimonious divorce since last year, and he is reportedly preparing to make accusations of bigamy against his wife, Lolita, at trial. Though he had previously expressed his suspicions of bigamy, Grayson claims he will present these suspicions to the judge and request a legal annulment instead of a dissolution.

Specifically, Grayson claims that his wife married him in 1990 and did not legally divorce her first husband, Robert Carson, until 1994. These claims are based on divorce records discovered in Broward County, Florida for “Lolita B. Carson.” His wife claims that the divorce involved a different Lolita Carson and that she was actually divorced in Guam in 1981. Neither Grayson nor his wife have been able to locate Robert Carson to testify in the matter.

Effects of an annulment

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Many couples who get married later want to end their legal relationship. Generally speaking, the first option that people consider is divorce, but in certain situations there may be other options available. One of the most commonly used alternatives to divorce is known as “annulment.” Just like divorce, an annulment dissolves the legal relationship between a married couple, but in an annulment the court is in essence declaring that a valid marriage never existed. For some people, is it important to avoid divorce due to the perception that it may involve some sort of social disgrace. Others may have personal religious opposition to divorce or may believe that their faith requires an annulment rather than a divorce. Annulment can be much more complicated than divorce, and often requires much more intensive assistance from an attorney. Consequently, it is important for anyone who is considering pursuing an annulment to discuss all of their options with an experienced Boca Raton family law attorney.

What are the Grounds for Annulment?

Not every marriage can be annulled. Interestingly, Florida statutory law details the procedures through which a couple can obtain a divorce, but is silent as to what reasons justify annulment. The law has been developed through court decisions interpreting common law, which are binding on lower courts through the doctrine of precedent. Some of the common grounds for annulment recognized by Florida courts include the following:

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Earlier this year, Florida Representative Alan Grayson was accused by his wife of domestic assault, specifically pushing her against a door. Shortly afterward, Grayson revealed a video of the incident that showed his wife was the one who escalated the domestic altercation, and she took back her allegations. Now, Grayson has filed his own court documents with some interesting accusations against his wife.

Aside from alleging abuse, libel, and slander stemming from the domestic incident, Grayson seeks to end their marriage after 24 years by requesting an annulment. Grayson accuses his wife of bigamy, which means being married to more than one person at one time. Grayson claims that his wife was secretly married to another person but told him she was single at the time of their marriage. Court documents state that she did not get a divorce from her first husband until several years after she married Grayson.

Reasons for Annulments

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In Florida, there is no specific statute that deals with the annulment of a marriage. There is however, a body of case law, which has developed from the common law, and which provides a basis for the annulment of a marriage.

Generally speaking, you must either have the legal capacity to marry or you must consent to marry. If you can prove that you lacked the capacity or were unable to give your consent to marry, there is a strong probability that you will be successful in having your marriage annulled in Florida.

An example of lack capacity would be getting married, while you are still married to someone else. This is an example of bigamy, when you have more than one spouse. This is a crime in Florida, and is a perfect example of lack of capacity to marry.