Once your spouse has been served with the annulment papers, you will have to wait and see what your spouse does before you know what your next step will be. You can learn about the possible next steps in this section.
The court process and issues involved in annulments are usually very similar to divorces. The annulment section of this website covers only the basic information for annulment cases. For a more detailed overview of things you might need to know for your annulment case (like going to court, preparing for trial, filing motions, etc.), please visit the Divorce section of this website. Many of the links on this page will take you to that section. The information there typically applies to annulment cases as well.
Your spouse has 21 days after being served with the summons and complaint to file their own papers. Your next step will depend on what your spouse does.
You can ask the Court to issue a “Default” against your spouse, which means that no papers were filed by the 21 day deadline. If approved, a default generally stops your spouse from filing their paperwork. You must fill out a Default form and bring it to the Clerk’s Office for review and approval.
If you do not get a default against your spouse, he or she can still file their papers past the 21 day deadline. After the 21 days is up, it is usually a matter of who gets to the courthouse first to file their papers.
If the Clerk enters a default against your spouse, you can ask the judge to give you a final annulment immediately. You will need to file a few more documents and then prepare an annulment decree that includes all of the same things you asked for in your complaint. You may be able to send your proposed annulment decree to the judge for approval without a hearing, but most judges want you to appear at a short hearing first. See Getting the Final Decree for more information on how to get your annulment finalized.
There are a number of things that will happen after your spouse files an Answer. You will have to file some additional papers, and the judge will schedule a hearing that both of you must attend.
Papers You Must File
First, look at the answer to find out if it includes a “counterclaim.” A counterclaim looks a lot like your complaint, and will tell you what your spouse wants out of the annulment. If your spouse included a counterclaim, you can file a “Reply to the Counterclaim.” Your reply tells the judge what parts of the counterclaim you agree with, disagree with, or do not know enough information about. You only need to write paragraph numbers in the reply. For instance, if you agree with the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd paragraphs in the counterclaim, you would write “1, 2, 3” in the reply on the line that says “Plaintiff admits the following allegations.”
Second, you have to file a Financial Disclosure Form within 30 days of when your spouse filed the answer (your spouse has to file one also). The Financial Disclosure Form, or “FDF,” gives information about your employment, your income, your expenses, your property, and your debts. This is information helps the judge to have an idea of what financial issues are involved in the annulment. If you do not fill out this form completely and accurately, the court may rule against you.
Wait for a Court Date
If your spouse filed an answer, the judge will set a court date in about 90 days. The hearing is called a “Case Management Conference.” You will receive a notice in the mail from the court with the hearing date included. Visit Case Management Conference for more information about this hearing (the link takes you to the divorce section, but the information applies to annulments as well).
Ask for a Referral to the Family Mediation Center
Whenever parents cannot agree on custody or visitation for their children, the court requires the parents to attempt mediation. You can start this process yourself rather than waiting for a judge to order you to go to mediation. See Family Mediation Center for more information.
File Motions for Temporary Orders
You might have some issues you want the judge to sort out while the annulment case is going on. This could include who should live in the house, where the children should live, when each parent should have time with the children, whether either spouse should pay temporary child support, etc.
A judge can issue temporary orders to guide the parties while the annulment case is moving forward. Either spouse can file a motion for temporary orders at any time before the final annulment is granted. Please visit Motions for Temporary Orders for more information (the link takes you to the divorce section, but the information applies to annulments as well).