Understanding False Pretenses


  • Starting a marriage under false pretenses can be damaging.
  • Proving that the marriage began under false pretenses may qualify it for an annulment.
  • The misplaced trust during a marriage that began under false pretenses can breed further mistrust in future relationships.
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"For the preservation of their own mental health, it is important for them to remember that marriage is not a decision made alone."

When you decide that the person that you are with is the person that you want to spend the rest of your life with, you are doing so based on the fact that you know as much information about the person as possible and accept them for who they are. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.

Many times, individuals enter a marriage without all of the facts, and that can cause confusion and conflict after the I do’s already have been exchanged. Whether it is a marriage under false pretenses or a marriage marred by lies, the damage that it can do is just the same.

Misrepresentation in marriage

Most believe that honesty is a key to a successful marriage, and when a spouse does not show that level of honesty and transparency, it can send the other into an emotional spiral. This type of act can be seen as a betrayal, and the marriage could end then and there.

In that moment, the wronged spouse believes that they have the ammo necessary to go on the offensive in the divorce. They think that because they are wronged in some way, they deserve more in the settlement.

Unfortunately, given that you are claiming that you entered this marriage without all of the facts and one of the spouses misrepresented themselves to another, this appears to be more fraudulent on the surface. One spouse grossly misrepresented themselves to another, and that may qualify the end of this marriage for an annulment.

Understanding annulments

An annulment is a legal process that essentially voids a marriage like it never existed. While it may appear like you entered a marriage under false or fraudulent pretenses, if it does not fall under the predetermined scope already established, then you do not qualify for an annulment.

Furthermore, even if you do qualify for an annulment, it does not necessarily mean that your perception as a victim will come into play at all. Those that have annulments still are subject to the same court procedures that will decide on visitation, alimony, child support, custody, and property division.

Fault in how the marriage ends is not always the determining factor in how the assets get divided. Even if a spouse was in love with another person, marries you, and has an affair, it is not necessarily what decides who gets what. Even if the false pretenses to which one spouse entered a marriage are established, there are states, like New York, where fault is not considered a factor that the court can take into account when dividing the property and awarding maintenance.

Emotional aspect

For some, it is not necessarily even about the assets or alimony. For them, it can be about entering a commitment with someone who was not honest about major aspects of themselves. This type of situation can cause a person to doubt their commitment to anyone in any future relationship, allowing the fear of heartbreak to run their life.

The emotional damage that can occur not only can affect how one views other people, but it can devastate how one views themselves. The questions that one can ask themselves, regarding how they could have possibly fallen for their ex-spouse or soon-to-be ex-spouse’s false pretenses, can leave them questioning many facets of their own life.

For the preservation of their own mental health, it is important for them to remember that marriage is not a decision made alone. The spouse who entered the marriage under false pretenses chose to do so, knowing that you would be left to sort through the chaos if it were to ever come to light. Even though the courts may view them on equal footing as you, from a perspective of dividing assets or assessing custody situations, you still have to maintain your own sense of dignity. You cannot allow yourself to be taken advantage of again by sitting on the sidelines during the divorce process.

Work to move forward

It’s important for you to work with your attorney on developing an effective legal strategy that works specifically for your case and is in the best interest for you and your children, if you have them. Even if you find yourself on the losing end of honesty within a relationship, it is important to not give up on people as a whole, nor give up all of your assets during the divorce process. In seeking to move forward with what you seek in your settlement, you are looking for something tangible in something started under false pretenses.

The marriage may not have been based on an honest representation of who you thought your spouse was, but that does not mean that every relationship that you pursue will feature a significant other who is misrepresenting themselves. You still  have time to move forward in finding someone more honest and forthcoming after the divorce experience.

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