Annulment in Nevada is when a court voids your marriage as if it never happened. Annulment is different from divorce in Nevada, which ends the wedlock but does not delegitimize it as being invalid.
Whereas any marriage in Nevada can end in divorce, only a few marriages are eligible to be annulled. The two main legal grounds for annulment are:
- Your wedding was not lawful to begin with (“void”), or
- You or your spouse did not give meaningful consent to get married (“voidable”)
Even though a Nevada annulment is not a divorce, annulments typically involve divorce-like proceedings where courts have to determine how to divide property and child custody.
You can file for an annulment without an attorney. Though an experienced Las Vegas divorce lawyer can help determine whether getting annulled is worth pursuing and how best to go about it.
In this article, our Las Vegas family law attorneys discuss how to get a marriage annulled in Nevada:
- 1. How is an annulment different from a divorce?
- 2. What qualifies for an annulment in Nevada?
- 3. Is it easy to annul a Vegas marriage?
- 4. How long do you have to get a marriage annulled in Nevada?
- 5. How much does an annulment cost in Nevada?
- 6. Can I get an annulment if I live out of state?
- 7. How do annulments affect alimony, division of property, and child custody?
- 8. Is a religious annulment different?
1. How is an annulment different from a divorce?
Both divorces and annulments legally terminate a Nevada marriage. However, the two concepts are distinct.
Annulments retroactively invalidate your marriage from the beginning. Legally, it is as if your marriage never existed.
In contrast, a divorce terminates your valid marriage beginning on the date the court grants a decree of divorce. Your marriage itself remains valid from the date of the marriage through the date of the divorce.
It is common for Catholics to pursue annulments instead of divorce since Catholicism does not permit remarriage following a divorce. It is also common for couples who enter into very short, ill-advised marriages to seek an annulment instead of divorce, such as Britney Spears did after her first wedding in Las Vegas in 2004.1
2. What qualifies for an annulment in Nevada?
All marriages can end by divorce, but only some may end by annulments. For your marriage to be annulled in Nevada, it must be “void” or “voidable.”
2.1. “Void” marriages
In Nevada, some weddings are automatically void. Even if you and your partner hold yourselves out as married and believe you are married, your marriage is automatically void if:
- You and your partner are blood relatives; or
- You or your partner are married to another person during the marriage (bigamy).2
2.2. “Voidable” marriages
In Nevada, there are four types of voidable marriages:
- You or your spouse was under 18 years old, and parental consent was not obtained at the time of marriage;3
- There was a “want of understanding” between you and your spouse at the time of the marriage. This means that one of you could not have consented due to:
- Mental disability, or
- A similar mental state;4
- Your consent or your spouse’s consent to the marriage was obtained by fraud (“lack of consent”).5 This can happen when your spouse hides important facts about themself; or
- Any other reasons for voiding a contract that exist.6 Such valid reasons can include duress, mistake, negligent misrepresentation, or undue influence.
A voidable marriage is a legal marriage until the court voids it, if it ever does. As long as neither you or your spouse succeeds in annulling the marriage, the court will recognize a voidable marriage as valid.
3. Is it easy to annul a Vegas marriage?
Annulment is a multi-step process in Nevada.
- File the proper paperwork in a Nevada District Court. The Supreme Court of Nevada supplies the necessary forms and instructions at its online self-help center. These forms can usually be filed in person, online, or through the mail.
- Have a “disinterested person” serve your spouse (“defendant”) with a copy of the summons and complaint and any other necessary paperwork. You can hire a process server to serve your spouse. This service needs to take place within 120 days of the original court filing. Whoever serves your spouse must file an affidavit of service with the court so it knows your spouse was served. Note that you may be able to ask the court for more time to serve your spouse, and you may be able to serve your spouse directly if your spouse “waives” service.
- If 21 days pass and your spouse does not answer the summons and complaint, file a “default” with the court clerk. The family court judge can then grant the annulment without hearing from your spouse. If your spouse does file an answer within 21 days of being served, the court will schedule a case management conference hearing within 90 days. There will also be some additional documents to file, including a “reply to a counterclaim” and “financial “disclosures.”7
- If the judge annuls the wedlock – either by default, agreement, or after a hearing or trial – you will file the “decree of annulment” for the judge to sign. If the judge denies the annulment, you can begin the appeals process. Otherwise, you can pursue a standard divorce.8
It is highly recommended that people hire an attorney to handle the paperwork and procedures, which can be very confusing and overwhelming.
3.1. Clark County annulment forms
Below are some legal forms Clark County District Court (which has jurisdiction over Las Vegas) accepts in annulment cases. Note that there is a $269 filing fee to file a complaint for annulment in Clark County.
- Complaint for Annulment (without children)
- Complaint for Annulment (with children)
- Joint Preliminary Injunction
- Waiver of Service of Summons and Complaint
- Affidavit of Service
- Reply to Counterclaim
- Financial Disclosures
- Decree of Annulment (without children)
- Decree of Annulment (with children)
It is not mandatory to file a “joint preliminary injunction” when filing for an annulment, but you may decide to because it prevents your spouse from:
- Disposing of community property;
- Changing the beneficiaries on retirement accounts or insurance plans;
- Harassing you, your family, or pets; and
- Moving the children (if any) out of Nevada without written permission
Go to the Clark County Annulment Self-Help website for more information.
4. How long do you have to get a marriage annulled in Nevada?
You can get a void or voidable marriage annulled at any time. There is no time limit.
5. How much does an annulment cost in Nevada?
The annulment filing fees vary by court (Clark County is $269). There may be additional costs, such as hiring a process server.
6. Can I get an annulment if I live out of state?
If you were married in Nevada, you can seek an annulment in a Nevada court without you or your spouse being a Nevada resident.
If your wedding occurred in another state, then you or your spouse must live in Nevada for at least six (6) weeks before filing the annulment request. In other words, there is a six-week residency requirement to annul out-of-state marriages in Nevada.9
7. How do annulments affect alimony, division of property, and child custody?
Nevada has little case law on how courts divide property following an annulment, but there seem to be two “bright-line” rules:
- Alimony in Nevada is not available following an annulment unless you or your spouse acted in bad faith. Spousal support is generally a benefit of divorce, not annulment. Though if there was mistreatment between you and your spouse, then courts may award “equitable alimony.”10
- If you and your spouse entered into the marriage in good faith and believed it was valid, then the court will follow the putative spouse doctrine and divide your assets according to Nevada community property principles as if you were legally married.11
When deciding child custody issues, the main factor courts take into account is what is in the best interest of the children (NRS 125C.0035). See our article on how Nevada courts determine child custody for unmarried parents.
Note that an annulment does not de-legitimize any children you have. This means the child’s father is still considered the father (unless proven otherwise).
8. What are religious annulments?
Certain churches that do not recognize divorce grant “religious annulments” to formerly-married people in order to allow them to marry in the church. These “religious annulments” do not carry legal weight and are completely separate from judicial annulments.
Call us for help
Annulling a marriage may or may not be your best option in the state of Nevada. Our Las Vegas annulment attorneys will help you make the right decision. Throughout your case, our Las Vegas, NV family law firm will protect your legal rights. Contact our divorce attorneys today for legal advice.
- John Berman and Edward Lovett, “Britney Spears’ Ex, Jason Alexander, Reflects on 55-Hour Marriage: ‘I Was in Love’“, ABC News (February 4, 2012).
- NRS 125.300 – marriage contract void; NRS 125.290; Williams v. Williams (2004) 120 Nev. 559, 97 P.3d 1124 (“An annulment proceeding is the proper manner to dissolve a void marriage and resolve other issues arising from the dissolution of the relationship.”). See also Anders v. Anders (Court of Appeals of Nevada, 2017) 133 Nev. 978.
- NRS 125.320.
- NRS 125.330; see, for example, McNee v. McNee (1924) 49 Nev. 90, 237 P. 534 (“…the burden being on plaintiff to prove by clear and satisfactory evidence that he was so far intoxicated when he went through the marriage ceremony as to have been incapable of giving a rational assent to the obligations imposed.”). See also Da Silva v. Da Silva (2021) .
- NRS 125.340; Irving v. Irving (2006) 122 Nev. 494, 134 P.3d 718 (“[P]ublic policy in favor of [being married] and against [getting annulled], and the burden of proof established by this court in other annulment proceedings, compels a clear and convincing burden in annulments based on fraud.”).
- NRS 125.350.
- NRS 125.360.
- NRS 125.380; Irving v. Irving (2006) 122 Nev. 494, 134 P.3d 718 (“This court reviews [annulling] proceedings for an abuse of discretion. Thus, a district court’s decision to [annul] will not be disturbed on appeal if it is supported by substantial evidence.”).
- NRS 125.360; NRS 125.370.
- Williams v. Williams, (2004) 120 Nev. 559, 97 P.3d 1124 (“[A]limony is not available in an equitable action for [annulling] because the right to alimony depends upon a valid marriage…In those cases, the courts found fraud, bad faith or bad conduct, such as cruelty, to support the award of equitable alimony. In the instant case, Richard and Marcie each acted in good faith…The putative spouse doctrine did not traditionally provide for an award of spousal support.”)
- Williams v. Williams, (2004) 120 Nev. 559, 97 P.3d 1124 (“[W]e adopt the putative spouse doctrine in annulment proceedings for purposes of property division[.]“)