How Does an Annulment Affect Child Custody?
Child custody matters are most frequently discussed during a divorce or legal separation, but there can also be children involved during annulment proceedings. These matters can be just as complex and emotionally charged as with a divorce or separation, which is why it is beneficial to know someone who’s an expert in New York child custody law.
Here’s what you can expect if you have a child and are looking to pursue an annulment to end your marriage.
Grounds for Annulment
The purpose of an annulment is to legally dismiss marriage as though it never happened. But unlike a divorce that can be based on the fault of one person or due to mutual and irreconcilable differences, there are only very specific reasons why a couple can pursue an annulment.
For example, you might consider an annulment due to insanity, mental incapacity, an underage spouse, not being able to consummate the marriage, an incestuous marriage, or being under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the marriage. An annulment may also be appropriate if the marriage occurred to get citizenship for one spouse, if one spouse was already secretly married to someone else, or if one person threatened the other into marriage.
An Annulment’s Impact on Child Custody
Child custody cases are handled in a similar way with an annulment as with a divorce or separation – with the best interests of the child put before anything else. It may be necessary to determine the paternity of the child to confirm who the legal father is before taking any further steps. A judge may decide upon a co-parenting plan for the spouses or restrict visitation and custody if one spouse is abusive or neglectful. The visitation rights of grandparents may also be impacted by an annulment once parents are no longer married.
The Legitimacy of Children
Regardless of whether you are pursuing an annulment or a divorce, any children born during a couple’s marriage are considered legally legitimate. Ending the marriage does not change the children’s status in this way, even if the children were born out of incest, bigamy, or forceful relations. This means that an annulment will not affect your child’s right to financial support because child support guidelines are typically based upon parents’ income and capacity to care for children rather than their marital status.
Instead, the main ways that children are affected during an annulment are with regard to the amount of support and custody determinations for the children. This may involve a judge deciding upon the amount of child support payments based on the parents’ incomes and how often the children are able to spend time with each parent during the school year and over holidays.
Get Help with your Annulment/Child Custody Case
Questions about what is legal separation, annulment, and divorce are best answered by a trained and experienced attorney who works with these types of cases every day. Theodore Alatsas, Esq. has been practicing law in New York since 1996 and knows what it takes to win a child custody case, even if there is an annulment being pursued. Our legal team offers free consultations to help you make the best decision for your family’s situation, and we are available by phone, online, and in our Brooklyn office.
Since annulments and child custody issues may need to be heard before different courts and at different times, it is beneficial to work with a local attorney who specializes in both of these types of law, such as Alatsas Law Firm. Contact us to learn more and get peace of mind that your children are taken care of in the best way possible.