Annulment is an alternative to divorce in which a court concludes that a marriage is invalid. Unlike an actual divorce, in which a court legally terminates a marriage, an annulment determines that the marriage never existed in the first place. An annulment may be granted on only very limited grounds, including that one spouse was under the age of 18 or mentally incapacitated or intoxicated at the time of the marriage, that the marriage was obtained by fraud, inducement, or threats, or that one spouse was already married at the time. The state’s Superior Court recently took on an annulment case in which one spouse said his Wife married him for immigration purposes.
Husband filed for an annulment of his marriage to Wife in 2009, less than two years after the couple married. He asserted that Wife, a Chinese citizen, fraudulently entered into the marriage for the sole purpose of getting a green card. He said she never moved in with him after the wedding and stopped talking to him after she got the green card. Husband said he was not aware where Wife, who didn’t answer the annulment complaint, was currently living. He believed she had returned to China.
A trial court entered a default judgement granting the annulment when Wife failed to appear at a hearing on the matter. It wasn’t until about four years later that she finally showed up to court, this time asking that the default judgement be vacated. Wife claimed that she and Husband were visiting her family in China in 2009 when she was detained on embezzlement charges. Wife said that she was unable to return to the U.S. during her incarceration and that Chinese law barred her from communicating with people outside China in a foreign language during her incarceration.