There are two basic ways to dissolve a marriage in Alabama: divorces and annulments. Although media coverage of divorces is widespread, particularly with regard to celebrity couples, much less coverage is granted to annulments. The effect of an annulment is to declare an invalid marriage as having been void from inception. As opposed to traditional divorce situations, where grounds must be established as having taken place during the marriage, an annulment requires there to have been some extenuating circumstance at the inception of the marriage that rendered it ineffective. Additionally, there are other marriages that may be considered “voidable” rather than void at inception, and court action would have to be taken in order to have such a marriage declared voided.
Generally, fraud that is utilized to induce a marriage or to motivate a party to participate in a marriage may render such a marriage voidable. The prototypical “shotgun wedding” is a classic example of this. If a party to a wedding is improperly motivated to participate under threat of violence or death, otherwise termed “duress”, then a valid argument could be made in favor of an annulment.