Family law issues and the declaration of invalidity of marriage

While an Illinois couple deciding to part ways and end a marriage, it is generally a matter of choice. However, there are certain instances in which the marriage itself will be declared invalid. This could have an affect on other aspects of the union and open up a host of other family legal issues. Understanding how and why a marriage can be declared invalid and how to deal with such a circumstance is important.

A marriage will be declared invalid by the court based on four circumstances. First, if a party from the marriage did not have the capacity to consent to it at the time it was done, it can be declared invalid. The lack of capacity to consent could be due to mental incapacity or due to the person being unable to consent because of being under the influence of alcohol, drugs or other substance. The lack of capacity to consent could also be due to having been induced into getting married by duress or fraud.

Second, a marriage will be declared invalid if the person lacked the physical capacity to consummate the marriage with sexual intercourse while the other party was unaware of this fact. Third, a marriage will be declared invalid at least one party was 16 or 17-years-old, and lacked parental consent or judicial approval to get married. Finally, the marriage is prohibited under the law.

If a marriage is declared invalid, it is also a concern as to the legitimacy of any children that might have come about during the union. If there were children born or adopted during the apparent marriage and that marriage was subsequently declared invalid, the children will still be considered the lawful result of that marriage. If the parents marry after the lawful birth, then the children will be recognized as being of both parents.

A marriage that is declared invalid can have an effect on custody and other family law issues. The couple might simply not have followed through on the legal requirements to make the marriage valid and must take steps to do so. There could be various factors in dispute as a result of the marriage being deemed invalid. When this situation comes up, speaking to a legal professional experienced in family law is key.

Source: ilga.gov, "Part III -- Declaration of Invalidity of Marriage -- Sec. 301; Sec. 303," accessed on Sept. 13, 2016