Under certain circumstances, the non-filing party may assert defenses that are not unique to annulment actions. As with any lawsuit, a defendant may raise the defenses of lack of jurisdiction, improper venue, inappropriate remedy, or lack of notice.
There are two basic approaches to divorce: fault-based divorce and “no fault” divorce. Most states permit a “no fault” divorce on the grounds that the marriage is irretrievably broken. Some states still require a fault-based divorce, some allow no-fault divorces, and a few states permit both. The fault grounds or reasons for divorce vary from state to state. Cruelty is a specific fault ground for divorce in most of the states that allow fault based divorces. Prior to the introduction of no-fault divorce grounds, cruelty was the most frequently used reason in seeking a divorce.
Annulment is very different from divorce, even though some grounds for annulment are similar to divorce. Some grounds available in divorce are not available in annulment. In most states, if a spouse is convicted for a serious crime and imprisoned consecutively for three years, imprisonment can be a ground for a divorce. While imprisonment is generally not a ground for annulment of marriage, in some states, if the defendant conceals his or her criminal record such as conviction and imprisonment from another spouse, this is considered fraud and can be grounds for annulment. Further, in some states, inmates imprisoned for life may not marry.
For purposes of no-fault divorce, states use various terms to describe the basic concept of marital breakdown, including irreconcilable differences, incompatibility, insupportability, and irretrievable breakdown. The realization that existing divorce laws no longer comported with the modern marriage experience and marital life led most states to recognize marital disharmony as a basis for no-fault divorce. Statutes usually provide some definition for the concept, and courts often have discretion to apply the standard in individual divorce proceedings.
A premarital agreement, also known as a prenuptial or ante-nuptial agreement, is an agreement made between the parties in anticipation of their marriage. Such agreements can cover issues such as property division upon divorce, as well as child custody, child support, and alimony. Although premarital agreements have been increasingly embraced for their ability to resolve complex property and support issues without resort to trial, the lack of uniform language included in such agreements has been noted as potentially problematic.