St. Petersburg Florida Celebrity Couple Seeks an Annulment After a Strange Wedding

An annulment is a rare procedure in family law, but there are some situations where a spouse or couple may have legal grounds to say the marriage never really existed.

Local news for Florida had previously reported on the divorce of actress Stacey Dash, and now it seems that her husband wants an annulment.

Husband of well known actress claims he was hypnotized during their wedding

Jeffrey Marty claims that he was initially tricked into marrying dash, which would give legal grounds for the marriage to be annulled. The filings in Florida family court in New Port Richey say that in April of 2018, the priest who married the couple used some kind of hypnotic prayer technique. It is uncontested that the couple had only known each other for 10 days before their wedding ceremony took place. Marty’s lawyer alleges in the pleadings that the pastor believed that the marriage was due to “God’s will,” and not the couple’s choice. He said he felt pressured into finalizing their vows, rather than making a free choice to do so. This would essentially eliminate his ability to consent to being married at the time if it is true.

Approximately two months before Marty asked for the annulment, Dash had filed a dissolution of marriage petition for a standard divorce. It appears that Dash would agree to the annulment if the judge will grant the motion. Her attorneys do not think Marty’s version of the facts are true, but they will agree for the purposes of ending the marriage quickly. She had also been previously arrested for domestic battery during a dispute with her former husband at the beginning of 2020. The body camera footage from law enforcement showed the coupe’s home on Avana Way, and police handcuffed the 53 year old actress to be taken away. Dash appeared to be calm and collected at the time. No acts of domestic violence were captured on the footage.

The couple settled their differences for a few months after this alteration, but they ended up starting the divorce process in June. Dash had already been married and divorced three other times before her marriage to Marty. She had been spending most of her time in Los Angeles, California to work on a remake of the popular 1990s movie Clueless, which featured her as one of the main characters.

New Port Richey is north of St. Petersburg in Pasco County.

What is an annulment?

An annulment is only granted under very specific circumstances. The procedure will dissolve the marriage and treat the two parties as if they had never married. It is similar to a divorce, but there needs to be reason to believe that the marriage was not valid or the couple should not have been married. From a legal standpoint, the couple is treated as if the wedding and the marriage never took place.

Some annulments are granted for religious reasons, while other situations like the news story above will argue that one party or both never actually consented to the marriage or they were forced into the union. Other grounds for annulments include one or both spouses already being married without ending their prior marriage, at least one party being younger than legal age of adulthood in the state, and mental illness.

How is this procedure different from a divorce?

In most cases, it is usually not necessary to seek an annulment because no fault divorces are convenient. At least one of the parties merely has to say that they think the marriage has broken down and cannot be fixed for a divorce to be granted. However, from a legal standpoint a divorce is different because the courts will say that the marriage was valid, and then it was dissolved at a later time.

If the couple meets some basic residency requirements, a judge can start the process to end the marriage quickly. Because of the relative convenience of this process when compared to proving grounds for an annulment, it is fairly rare that most couples would bother to try for an annulment rather than a standard divorce. Other issues related to property division, alimony, and child custody may still have to be sorted out in a similar fashion even if the marriage is annulled.

Because there are generally very few situations that would lead to an annulment rather than a divorce, it is important to consult with an experienced family law attorney before choosing whether an annulment or a divorce is best in your situation. For most couples, the divorce is likely to be the more efficient option, although there are exceptions.

Get assistance from a local lawyer

There are family law attorneys in the St. Petersburg area who can assist you with divorces, child support payments, alimony payments, domestic violence issues, and other family law procedures. To learn more, get in touch with The Law Offices of Yeazell and Sweet.