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Invalid Marriages and Voidable Marriages in Illinois

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Naperville family law attorneyGetting married, at least in Illinois, requires more than simply a wish to be together. It requires compliance with all the relevant laws, which includes being of legal age and having no impediment that might prevent a valid marriage from going forward. It does happen, though, that many are unaware of some part of the law or are not aware that some characteristic of the bride or groom actually prevents the marriage from being solemnized. Marriages can either be declared void from the beginning, or they can be voided by a court due to alleged wrongdoing.

Void Marriages

In order to marry, a couple must be able to provide proof that they (1) are either of legal age or have their parents’ consent to marry; and (2) know of no legal impediment to the marriage, such as the bride and groom being related within forbidden degrees. A void marriage occurs when one or both of these conditions are not fulfilled Examples might include one spouse being married already to another or the spouses turning out to be cousins. It is also possible to have a marriage declared void (rather than voidable) if one of the spouses is a minor who does not have their parents’ consent to wed.

Void marriages also have one important consideration in terms of legal fallout: in Illinois, any children of a void marriage will be legitimate as long as the parties (the spouses) reasonably believed at the time that the marriage was valid. In other words, if the spouses had no idea that they were related, any children they have will be considered to have been born in wedlock.

Voidable Marriages

By comparison, a marriage is voidable if there is a legal impediment to the marriage that was not eliminated before going through with the formalities. The most common cited impediments are fraud, duress, or mistakes. Imperfect consent is another common reason for a marriage to be held voidable. For example, if a young bride lacks her parents’ permission to marry, the marriage is voidable until she reaches the age of consent, but afterward, the marriage is presumed valid, because the impediment is removed. Voidable marriages may be annulled, while void marriages do not need to be, because they were never valid in the first place.

Be advised that a voidable marriage can become a valid marriage under Illinois law if the parties either tacitly consent or fail to act on its voidability. In other words, if you and your wife discover that your marriage was founded on a fraud, but neither of you take steps to obtain an annulment, you have in essence accepted the fraud, making your marriage valid.

Ask a Family Law Attorney

If you worry that your marriage may have some legal faults in its foundation, the best thing to do is consult an experienced attorney. Contact one of the skilled DuPage County family law attorneys at Pesce Legal Group, P.C. today for a confidential consultation. Call 630-352-2240 for an appointment.


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