If you want to terminate your marriage, you need a divorce. If you want to nullify the marriage, you need an annulment.
Under Minnesota law, a marriage can be annulled under the following circumstances:
(a) One spouse lacked the mental capacity to consent to the marriage at the time of the wedding, unbeknown to the other spouse;
(b) One spouse lacks the physical capacity to engage in sex, unbeknown (at the time of the wedding) to the other spouse;
(c) One spouse, or both spouses, lacked the capacity to consent to the marriage at the time of the wedding because of the influence of alcohol, drugs, or other incapacitating substances;
(d) One spouse’s consent was obtained by force or fraud (although this basis for annulment does not apply if the defrauded spouse later lives with the other spouse voluntarily);
(e) One spouse, or both spouses, were not 16 years of age or older at the time of the wedding, and if under the age of 18, did not have consent of his or her parent or guardian.
It is important to note that the family court has discretion to fairly divide assets and liabilities in annulment cases, as in divorce cases; so the decision to annul the marriage – versus to dissolve the marriage – does not affect the property settlement.
Moreover, in certain cases, one spouse may dispute the grounds for annulment but be unable to dispute the grounds for divorce, since a marriage can be dissolved under Minnesota law if one spouse declares an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage (a somewhat subjective standard that is satisfied by one spouse’s assertion to the family court that the marriage cannot be saved). If the grounds for annulment can be effectively disputed by one spouse’s counterargument, the spouse desiring to end the marriage may be best served by seeking to dissolve the marriage, rather than nullify the marriage.