Marriages in Texas are generally presumed to be valid. Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 1.101. In some cases, however, a party may seek to have a marriage determined to be invalid by pursuing an annulment. When a person petitions for annulment, they are taking the position that the marriage was not valid and should be declared void. One reason a party may seek an annulment is if they were induced to enter the marriage through fraud, duress, or force by the other party. A party may only be granted an annulment on these grounds if they did not voluntarily live with the other party after finding out about the fraud or no longer being under duress or force. Tex. Fam. Code § 6.107. A divorce suit, however, presumes the marriage was valid, but asks that it be dissolved.
Trial Court Grants Divorce instead of Annulment
A former husband recently appealed his divorce, arguing that the court should have granted his petition for annulment instead of the wife’s counter-petition for divorce. They were both Chinese nationals living in different cities in Texas and got married days before the husband’s last interview for his green card. The wife was attending university in Odessa on a non-immigrant student visa at the time. Before the marriage, they agreed they would live apart until the wife graduated, but that the wife would move into off-campus housing so the husband could visit her. They also agreed she would move to San Antonio, where the husband lived, after graduation. She instead ultimately rented a room in Odessa.
The wife got a green card in 2016 based on her marriage. The husband became concerned she married him to speed up her immigration. He petitioned for annulment on the grounds of fraud in July 2017. The wife subsequently counter-petitioned for divorce.
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