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A void marriage has no legal effect. There is no need for a court decree of annulment; however, a party may request a judicial determination of validity by means of an annulment action to clarify the rights of the parties. Some examples of a void marriage are ones involving bigamy, polygamy, incest, and same sex partners (varies by state). A party to the marriage, the state, or an interested party in any proceeding may collaterally attack a void marriage, even after death.

A voidable marriage is valid until and unless the aggrieved party obtains an annulment. If a voidable marriage is confirmed or ratified by the aggrieved party, or if one of the parties to the marriage dies, the validity of the marriage may not be questioned or attacked by any person. Some examples of a voidable marriage are ones involving nonage, impotency, temporary lack of capacity due to alcohol and/or drugs, duress or fraud, and mental incompetence.

The primary difference between a void marriage and a voidable marriage is that only the aggrieved party may bring the action to annul a voidable marriage during the life of both parties.

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