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A trial court may grant a petitioner an annulment of a marriage if (1) the other party used fraud, duress, or force to induce the petitioner to enter into the marriage; and (2) the petitioner has not voluntarily cohabited with the other party since learning of the fraud or since being released from the duress or force. Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 6.107 (2006).
The husband, a resident of the United States, met the wife, an Ethiopian citizen, on an internet dating site. The wife told the husband she wanted a marital relationship with several children. The two were married in 2007, and began living together in October 2008. The wife claimed the husband abused her, and she left him in May 2009 shortly after she received her green card. The wife filed a petition for divorce. The husband filed a cross-petition requesting dissolution of the marriage, or alternatively, annulment based on fraud. Following a hearing, the trial judge ruled that the marriage should be annulled. On appeal, the wife asserted that the evidence was legally and factually insufficient to support an annulment and the trial court erred because there was no determination as to whether the alleged fraud went to the essentials of the marriage relationship.
Was the grant of annulment proper under the circumstances?
The court affirmed the judgment of the annulment, upholding the trial court’s finding that the wife fraudulently induced the husband to marry her by making material representations; in particular, that she loved him and wanted a long-term relationship, marriage, and children. There was evidence that the wife simply wanted to come to the United States and that she had had a birth control injection prior to arriving to avoid having children. Therefore, annulment was proper under Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 6.107 (2006). Contrary to the wife's assertion, the trial court was not required to also determine whether the fraud went to the essentials of the marital relationship.