In Iowa, one spouse may obtain an annulment of marriage under the following grounds:
(1) The marriage is prohibited by law;
(2) either party was impotent at the time of the marriage;
(3) either party has a husband or wife living at the time of the marriage (provided, knowing that fact, they have not lived and cohabited together after the death or divorce of the former spouse of such party); or
(4) either party was a ward under a guardianship and did not have capacity to contract a legal marriage. Marriages otherwise prohibited by law can also be annulled, including spouses who are related by blood in certain circumstances. Also, minors can receive an annulment if there was no consent from the legal guardians or if either party falsely represented his or her age at the time of the ceremony.
The procedure for filing for an annulment in Iowa is the same as filing for divorce. Either the petitioning spouse must have lived in Iowa for the past year or the responding spouse must currently reside in Iowa. A petition for annulment, which must contain certain required language, is filed along with the original notice. The responding spouse must be personally served or must waive formal service. A hearing is held before the judge. After the hearing, the judge must determine if a ground has been met. If so, the judge can sign an order granting an annulment.
If an annulment is granted, then the spouses are treated as if they were never married, which is different from a divorce action. A divorce action ends a marriage that is a valid marriage. The court has the authority to divide marital property. If one spouse engaged in fraud in entering into the marriage, then the court can order the spouse who committed fraud to compensate the innocent spouse. If children were born during the marriage, the court generally finds that the children are legitimate unless one spouse proves the children are not the biological children of both parents. The court can award custody, visitation, and child support.
Because of the legal requirements for getting an annulment, it is harder to obtain an annulment than it is to obtain a divorce. It is important to consult with an attorney regarding your options.