The next time Britney Spears gets married, she can, if she wants to, still wear white. Courtesy of the legal loophole of an annulment, Spears has never, technically, been married.
Just like a divorce, an annulment is a legal procedure that invalidates a marriage, but unlike a traditional divorce, annulments treat the marriage as if it never happened.
“It’s saying something never existed that we all know existed,” said famed divorce lawyer Raoul Felder, who has represented clients such as Robin Givens, David Gest, Rudolph Giuliani and Mick Jagger’s ex Luciana Morad. “It’s a legal fantasy. It can’t happen in a real state like [it did], it happens only in Vegas like that. People do it so that when they meet someone at a cocktail party they can say they have never been married.”
Spears was granted an annulment on Monday, ending her weekend marriage to childhood pal Jason Allen Alexander on the grounds that she and her husband of 55 hours were “incompatible” (see “Britney Single Again As Judge Annuls Marriage”). Neither will get spousal support following the proceeding and Spears told the Clark County District judge that she was not pregnant at the time of the annulment. The singer was granted the annulment on the basis of a “lack of understanding” of her decision to get married.
Felder said couples sometimes opt for an annulment to avoid the stigma of a divorce, paving the way for a church-sanctioned marriage in the future. “It’s absurd that she said she didn’t understand,” Felder said. “But she should have no problem getting married again, since if you get annulled in one state it is recognized in all states.”
Rules vary from state to state, but the general grounds for annulment include misunderstanding, refusal/inability to consummate the marriage, concealment (of addiction, felonies, children or sexually transmitted diseases) or fraud/misrepresentation. Because they are more narrowly defined than divorces, civil annulments are generally harder to obtain, though most annulments take place after brief marriages such as Britney’s, which is why property and assets are not typically an issue.
Basketball star Dennis Rodman and Carmen Electra were granted an annulment nine days after their 1998 Vegas marriage, citing fraud related to Rodman’s inebriation during the ceremony. A Las Vegas judge also approved the 2000 annulment of the quickie marriage of “Who Wants to Marry a Multimillionaire?” star Rick Rockwell and Darva Conger after the bride.