The state of Washington places restrictions upon whom a person may legally marry. Although same-sex marriages are now legal throughout the entire United States, certain unions are banned by the laws of the state. This post will discuss some of those prohibited unions and will also briefly introduce the topic of annulment.
In Washington, a person is prohibited from marrying another person if they are already married. In order for a second marriage to occur, the party must first finalize a divorce from their first spouse; a person may not have multiple spouses through two legal marriages.
Additionally, a person cannot marry a closely related relative. Marriages between first cousins and closer relations are banned; these include marriage between siblings as well as between parents and their children.
Finally, individuals cannot be pressured or forced into marriage through duress or fraud. If a person is forced to marry against their will, then there may be a compelling case to end the marriage and regard it has never having occurred.
Unlike a divorce which recognizes that the former partners to a marital couple were joined in a legal union an annulment effectively cancels a marriage. It makes a marriage disintegrate, though if any children were born to a marriage that was later dissolved those children are still considered the legitimate offspring of their parents.
Annulments are not as common as divorces and in order for a Washington couple to qualify for annulment proceedings their marriage must fall into one of the prohibited categories. Readers who believe that their marriages may be prohibited and who wish to better understand the divorce and annulment processes are encouraged to speak with family law attorneys about their questions and concerns.