Certain criteria must be met for a marriage to be legally valid. Specifically, the conditions may vary from state to state but most states require:
- Consent. Parties must be willing and able to consent to marry. This means that they must possess the mental capacity to make an informed decision. This consent must be given free of undue influence, duress, or coercion. In other words, if a party is intoxicated, he or she may be unable to effectively consent to marry. Additionally, most states require parties to be a certain minimum age before they can consent to marry.
- Representations. If parties rely on certain material information when deciding to marry, misrepresentation of this information may legally invalidate the marriage. In some states this may include misrepresentation of desire to have children, ability to have children, physical health, criminal history, and age, among others.
Basically, an annulment provides a legal mechanism to undo a marriage that should not have happened, legally speaking.
This list is not intended to be comprehensive and the conditions required to validate a marriage vary depending on the jurisdiction. Please consult with a local family lawyer to determine which, if any, conditions apply.