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October 15, 2020 12:11 PM   Subscribe

I got married last month. It was the wrong choice. What are my options?

Husband and I live in Missouri. We've been together for 4 years and were engaged to be married in September, but we postponed the wedding indefinitely due to COVID (husband is US citizen, but most of his family does not live in US, so getting them here was not an option). The postponement felt like a stroke of luck to me, as I had been contemplating breaking off the engagement for a while. My husband is a nice guy, and a solid partner, but my urge to leave existed even before the pandemic, and it grew even stronger under lockdown.

However, In August, my husband and I took a much needed vacation, rekindled our love, and decided to change plans and elope this year instead. It seemed like a great idea at the time, a movement towards something good, but I now realize the decision was made while I was in the midst of an unmedicated manic episode that would last for about 3-4 weeks.

My mental crash came just a few days before the wedding. I voiced my concerns to my husband and friends, but I convinced myself that I just had cold feet. We went through with the wedding at the end of September. Now, weeks later, with a clear head, I am confident that I should not have gotten married and I am confident that I want to end my relationship. Would we need to hire a regular divorce lawyer, or would we qualify for an annulment? We do not have children and the only thing we own together is a van, but I'm happy to let him have it and cut my losses.

I will obviously bring this up to my husband, but I want to come to the table with an action plan.

P.S. I am also seeking effective mental health treatment. My past therapist and psychiatrist were stop-gap telehealth options, which did more harm than good.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I don't think you qualify for an annulment in Missouri based on your description of what happened. If you'd been in an active manic phase when you got married, and then got a diagnosis with that, you might have a shot under Lack of Capacity. But it sounds like you were out of your manic phase and resigned yourself to getting married despite your reservations, and were of sound (but sad) mind when you did that.

I can't speak to what your best divorce options are, but if you think your divorce will be uncontested and cooperative, Missouri does offer self-represented divorces (no lawyers). Read the site carefully, though.
posted by juniperesque at 12:25 PM on October 15, 2020 [3 favorites]

It looks like Missouri has very specific requirements for annulments — basically, if you could not actually legally enter a marriage contract due to being underage, one of you being already married, being each other’s close family members (too close to legally marry), lacking capacity to enter into a contract (e.g. declared incompetent), or marrying under duress. Even if you think you qualify for an annulment, you should still get a lawyer to represent you. (By the way, you alone hire a lawyer, not you and your husband jointly. It’s generally considered a conflict of interest for a divorce lawyer to represent both parties. He can get his own lawyer if he wants one.)
posted by snowmentality at 12:27 PM on October 15, 2020 [1 favorite]

You need a lawyer. You probably don't meet the criteria for an annulment and even if you did, an uncontested divorce may actually be easier.
posted by xylothek at 12:30 PM on October 15, 2020 [4 favorites]

I don't know why people are telling you to get a lawyer, if your husband is not going to contest this and there's no property, kids, debt or support that either of you want to fight over.

The forms for dissolution are on the family court website as juniperesque linked above.
posted by fingersandtoes at 1:42 PM on October 15, 2020 [14 favorites]

Talk to a marital lawyer in Missouri; even if you end up going the DIY route, it's good to have that resource.
Document every scrap of finances and store the documentation safely. Start thinking of a far and kind way to manage the divorce.
posted by theora55 at 1:44 PM on October 15, 2020 [5 favorites]

You are asking if you need a divorce lawyer that you would share. Even non-contentious divorces often have two lawyers, one for each partner. Here's the thing: you can't predict your husband's reaction, and you can't know if he's going to work through this gracefully or if it's going to be difficult for him. Because it sounds like this is also a break up, not just an un-marrying and going back to being unmarried partners. You just can't know his reaction. (My ex-husband and I used a mediator and didn't have our own lawyers, but I think that's pretty unusual.)

Divorce lawyers will typically talk to you for free as an interview sort of thing. So I'd call one or two in your area and have a conversation with them about this situation and see what they have to say.

We do not have children and the only thing we own together is a van, but I'm happy to let him have it and cut my losses.
I don't think you said but I think you are a woman. I know a lot of women who basically damaged themselves financially in order to avoid conflict or avoid working for something that was fair. Don't take a financial loss because you feel guilty. It's okay to ask for the value of half the cost of the van. It is okay for you to end this relationship and get divorced. You don't need to make yourself suffer. This is true regardless of your sex and gender.
posted by bluedaisy at 3:08 PM on October 15, 2020 [58 favorites]

Bluedaisy is correct. I was married for a short period of time many years ago and did not have the funds for a lawyer; my ex’s family was supposedly going to pay for his. We had an uncontested divorce and I did all of the paperwork myself (because he wasn’t going to), but the separation started rough when I came home from work one morning and the apartment was cleaned out and my truck was gone. Don’t find yourself in the position of going from even a few things to nothing. It sucks.
posted by sara is disenchanted at 3:27 PM on October 15, 2020 [20 favorites]

I did an uncontested divorce with no lawyers (in WI) and it was the right choice for me. We had no kids and were able to amicably split up our possessions (which were worth very little - think books and board games). So it's possible for it to go smoothly, but only you know your situation.
posted by augustimagination at 7:54 PM on October 15, 2020 [1 favorite]

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