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Annulment of Marriage in South Dakota

Annulment of Marriage in South Dakota

Navigating Nullity: The Annulment Process in South Dakota

Marriage dissolution can take various forms, and while divorce is the more commonly known process, annulment serves as an alternative path. In South Dakota, annulment provides a legal mechanism for declaring a marriage null and void under specific circumstances. This article delves into the annulment process in South Dakota, exploring the grounds for seeking an annulment, the legal implications, and the key differences from divorce.

Grounds for Annulment in South Dakota:

1. Fraud or Misrepresentation:

– One of the grounds for annulment in South Dakota is fraud or misrepresentation. If one party can prove that the marriage was based on deceit or false information that goes to the essence of the marriage, it may be considered void.

2. Bigamy:

– An annulment may be granted if it is discovered that one party was already married at the time of the marriage, rendering the subsequent marriage invalid.

3. Incest:

– Marriages between close blood relatives are generally considered void, and an annulment can be sought on these grounds in South Dakota.

4. Underage Marriage:

– If one or both parties were underage at the time of marriage and did not obtain the necessary legal consent, the marriage may be voidable, and an annulment could be pursued.

5. Lack of Capacity:

– A marriage may be annulled if one of the spouses lacked the mental capacity to understand the nature of the marriage or was under the influence of drugs or alcohol during the ceremony.

Legal Implications of Annulment:

1. Nullification of Marriage:

– An annulment in South Dakota essentially nullifies the marriage, treating it as though it never legally existed.

2. Property Division:

– Unlike divorce, where marital property is subject to equitable distribution, annulment does not involve such division since the marriage is considered to be void. However, issues regarding property acquired during the purported marriage may still be addressed.

3. Spousal Support:

– Annulment generally means that there is no provision for spousal support since the marriage is treated as if it never occurred.

4. Child Custody and Support:

– Matters related to child custody and support are addressed similarly to divorce cases, prioritizing the best interests of the children involved.

Key Differences from Divorce:

1. Legal Status:

– The primary difference between annulment and divorce lies in the legal status of the marriage. An annulment declares the marriage void from its inception, while divorce terminates a legally valid marriage.

2. Timeframe:

– Annulments are typically sought early in the marriage, often shortly after the wedding, while divorce can be pursued at any time during the marriage.

3. Stigma:

– There may be differing societal perceptions between annulment and divorce. Annulment, often associated with the idea that the marriage was never valid, may carry less social stigma than divorce in certain contexts.


The annulment process in South Dakota provides a legal avenue for individuals seeking to dissolve a marriage under specific circumstances. Understanding the grounds for annulment, the legal implications, and the distinctions from divorce is crucial for those navigating the complexities of marital dissolution. Whether considering an annulment or exploring other options, seeking legal advice from professionals experienced in South Dakota family law can provide invaluable guidance through the process of nullifying a marriage.


Frequently Asked Questions about Annulment of Marriage in South Dakota

What is an annulment of marriage in South Dakota?

Sometimes, individuals confuse a divorce of marriage with an annulment of marriage in South Dakota, and it’s not hard to see why. Both are opportunities for individuals to escape from legal relationships that are no longer working. However, if annulment has the same practical purpose as divorce, it is philosophically very different. A divorce will simply end a marriage, but an annulment of marriage in South Dakota means that the marriage was never valid to begin with.

Who can get an annulment of marriage in South Dakota?

There are several grounds for annulment of marriage in South Dakota, but keep in mind that all of them have to do with the foundation for the marriage, not with the conduct of either party during the marriage.

1. Bigamy: Most individuals think of bigamy as a man living with two or more wives, but when bigamy occurs today, it is usually because one partner failed to get an official divorce from a previous marriage.

2. Unsound Mind: Unsound mind refers to an inability to make sound decisions on one’s own, and usually refers to a sufferer of mental illness. A person who is found to be of unsound mind should have a legal guardian to prevent such occurrences in the future.

3. Underage Marriage: If either partner was under the age of consent and did not have parental approval for the marriage, then the marriage can be annulled. The one restriction is that for an annulment of marriage in South Dakota under these grounds, the lawsuit must be filed within four years of the underage partner reaching the age of majority.

4. Use of Force: No marriage can be considered legitimate if one partner was literally forced or coerced into the marriage.

5. Physical Incapacity: This is the legal world’s polite term for impotence, which is grounds enough for any annulment so long as it appears to be incurable.

How do I file for annulment of marriage in South Dakota?

In order to get an annulment of marriage in South Dakota, you should follow these simple steps:

1. Make sure that the statute of limitations has not expired. In most cases, this means that you are filing for annulment of marriage in South Dakota within four years of the actual marriage, but there are two exceptions: underage marriage, in which it is four years from reaching the age of majority, and bigamy, in which case there is a lifetime-long annulment period.

2. File a complaint with your county’s South Dakota circuit court.

3. Serve the complaint on your soon-to-be ex-spouse. You spouse may choose to challenge the annulment of marriage in South Dakota, in which case they will send you and the court a formal response.

4. A hearing will be scheduling during which the judge in your case will determine you and your spouse’s annulment.