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Annulment vs. Divorce, what’s the Difference?

%Top Rated Family Attorney %Shane McClure

Not all marriages can be annulled, even though annulment and divorce end a marriage. To have your marriage annulled, you must meet your state’s (sometimes stringent) standards. Here’s a rundown of the difference between Annulment and Divorce, as well as the relationship between them and divorce.

Annulment vs divorce: What’s the main difference?

An annulment and a divorce are both legal processes that end a marriage, but they do so differently and with different connotations. The links of matrimony between two spouses are broken when they divorce. An annulment is a legal declaration that a marriage is void. Annulments are extremely infrequent and difficult to establish. To put it another way, divorce is significantly more common than annulment since annulment has extremely stringent qualifying standards that most couples do not meet. Furthermore, most people don’t need or want the legal repercussions of annulment in normal circumstances—like it’s the difference between stating “my ex-husband” and “no comment.”

There are simple reasons why someone would require or seek an annulment: the circumstances surrounding the marriage were false, morally problematic, or outright unlawful. While there must still be a legal foundation for annulment (see below), you may seek an annulment 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 Divorce and Annulment: What’s the Difference?

Annulments and divorces are alike in that they both end a marriage legally. Whether you’ve acquired 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?

A child’s claim to financial assistance is unaffected by an annulment. Supporting a kid 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 all other parents. In most states, this implies that while assessing each parent’s financial duties, the court will use the state’s child support standards, and when deciding custody, the court will consider what is in the child’s best interests.

What are the reasons for divorce?

Divorce grounds differ by state, which is why you’ve probably heard the terms “fault-based” and “no-fault” states. No-fault divorce is legal in all states, which means you don’t have to prove anyone was “at blame” for the breakup of your marriage to seek a divorce. Any partner in a legally legitimate marriage can typically file for divorce six months after being emotionally or physically separated from their spouse. This is why “irreconcilable disagreements” is frequently used as a “cause” for no-fault divorces.

However, suppose you wish to get divorced sooner (skipping the six-month separation) or prove that your spouse was at fault for the marriage’s breakdown to obtain a larger share of marital property or alimony. In that case, you can only do so in a fault-based divorce state.

However, 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:

  • Due to a mental handicap or being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, one spouse lacked the competence to consent to the marriage at the time of the marriage.
  • Force, fraud, or compulsion were 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 authorisation 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?

You probably won’t be able to get an annulment unless your marriage is illegal. In any case, you should obtain legal advice from an expert divorce lawyer to review your legal choices and choose the best course of action for your particular situation.

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