Kim Kardashian’s attorney told a judge on Nov. 28 that the reality starlet is “handcuffed” to her estranged husband, Kris Humphries, and unable to move on with her life because the NBA player continues to seek an annulment but is not ready for trial.Humphries is blocking more than the basketball these days. The Brooklyn Nets player, whom socialite Kim Kardashian is reportedly trying to divorce (so that rapper Kanye West can marry her), is seeking an annulment instead of a typical divorce.
Due to the legal hoops that must be jumped through, annulments can take longer than divorces, and West reportedly has had it up to here with waiting around. He wants his turn to marry this Kardashian.
It Never Happened
Have you ever wanted to make something just go away? Pretend it never happened? That’s basically what an annulment does to a marriage.
“An annulment is a declaration by a court that there was never a marriage,” explains Dylan S. Mitchell, a partner with Blank Rome LLP in New York. “Unlike a divorce, which focuses on the actions of parties during the marriage, an annulment depends solely upon the actions of one or both parties at the time of the marriage.”
They are very uncommon, at least in New York, Mitchell says. When they do happen, they often involve short marriages and fraud. “Basically, one party will allege that the other fraudulently induced that party to marry based upon a promise, which is usually the promise to have a child,” he says.
“Annulments are disfavored in New York since they result in a declaration that the marriage never legally existed,” Mitchell says. “It’s not available just for the asking, or because one or both don’t want to admit the marriage failed and ended in divorce.”
Aside from fraud, other grounds for getting an annulment might include mental illness of one of the spouses, forced or lack of consent, physical incapacity to consummate the marriage, or bigamy, according to a site dedicated to U.S. marriage laws.
More Hoops to Jump Through
Dylan S. Mitchell
In Kris and Kim’s case, it’s probably taking longer than a divorce would because Kris has more to prove than the fact that the marriage (obviously) didn’t work.
In order to get an annulment, you first have to prove that the underlying problem – fraud, mental illness, etc. – exists. For example, to prove fraud, you would have to show the other person made a false statement, that they knew it was a lie and were trying to trick you, and that you were harmed in some way by the deception.
State laws also require the plaintiff to prove that an annulment is necessary, and it can be challenged by a spouse who doesn’t want it. “A party could effectively fight the annulment and require the plaintiff to prove his or her case at trial,” says Mitchell.
Uncontested? Still Takes Forever
Even if the annulment is not challenged, just one person saying he or she wants it isn’t enough. “There must be other evidence of fact produced to the court,” Mitchell adds. Thus, Kim and Kanye will have to wait.
While annulment makes the marriage itself go away, it doesn’t render any children from the union illegitimate, Mitchell says. And a couple who gets an annulment still has to divvy up their property, since, as he adds, “the court retains the power in an annulment to equitably distribute marital assets, determine separate property, etc. just as it does in a divorce action.”
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