Ending a marriage is a difficult decision, and couples have two legal options to choose from: annulment and divorce. While both processes legally end a marriage, they do so differently and have different consequences. In this article, we’ll explore the difference between annulment and divorce, their similarities, and the factors that determine which option is best for you.
Annulment vs. Divorce: What’s the Main Difference?
Divorce is the more common option of the two because it’s easier to obtain. When a couple files for divorce, they’re ending their marriage legally. An annulment, on the other hand, is a legal declaration that the marriage is void. In other words, it’s like the marriage never happened. Annulments are extremely rare and difficult to establish because they have strict qualifying standards that most couples do not meet.
There are several reasons why someone would seek an annulment. The circumstances surrounding the marriage were false, morally problematic, or outright unlawful. An annulment is also an option if you want to restore a legal position that existed before the marriage, such as receiving spousal support from a previous marriage or to preserve your property.
Similarities Between Divorce and Annulment
Despite their differences, annulments and divorces share some similarities. Both legal processes end a marriage, and regardless of whether you obtain an annulment or a divorce, the result is the same: you’re single and free to marry again.
Furthermore, a spouse seeking an annulment bears a burden of proof similar to that of a spouse seeking a fault-based divorce. The spouse filing must prove the facts demonstrating that the marriage fits the state’s conditions for annulment.
What Effect Does an Annulment Have on Child Support and Custody?
An annulment does not affect a parent’s claim to financial assistance for the support of their children. Supporting a child is the responsibility of both parents, regardless of their marital status. Whether the marriage ends in an annulment or divorce, the spouse is still the presumed father of any child born during the marriage. An annulment does not impact the legality of any children born during the marriage, even though it effectively erases the marriage.
When a couple who has had their marriage annulled needs to decide on child custody and support, the courts will follow the same rules as for all other parents. In most states, this means that while assessing each parent’s financial duties, the court will use the state’s child support standards. When deciding custody, the court will consider what is in the child’s best interests.
What Are the Grounds for Divorce?
In all states in Australia, a no-fault divorce is legal, which means that you don’t have to prove anyone was “at blame” for the marriage’s breakdown to seek a divorce. Any partner in a legally valid marriage can typically file for divorce twelve months after being emotionally or physically separated from their spouse. This is why “irreconcilable differences” is often used as a “cause” for no-fault divorces.
It is important to note that when it comes to child custody, child support, alimony, and other issues, the cause for divorce has no bearing on child support responsibilities or what is best for the parties’ children.
What Are the Grounds for Annulment?
The following are some of the most common reasons for annulment or a finding of invalidity:
- One spouse lacked the competence to consent to the marriage at the time of the marriage due to a mental handicap or being under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Force, fraud, or compulsion was used to persuade one spouse to marry.
- At the marriage, one of the spouses was 16 or 17 years old and had not obtained the necessary legal authorization from a parent, guardian, or court.
- At the time of the marriage, one of the spouses was still legally married to another person.
- It was an incestuous union.
- One spouse disguised the truth that they lacked the physical capacity to complete the marriage from the other.
How Can You Tell Which One Is the Best Fit for You?
Choosing between annulment and divorce can be a challenging decision, and you should seek legal advice from an expert divorce lawyer to review your legal options and choose the best course of action for your particular situation.
In conclusion, annulment and divorce are two different legal processes that couples can choose from to end their marriage. While they have similarities, they also have differences that can significantly impact your life after marriage. Whether you’re considering divorce or annulment, it’s essential to understand the legal requirements and implications of both options before making a decision.