What is the Difference Between Annulment and Divorce?

The front entrance of a divorce court building

No one gets married assuming they’ll get divorced. When you’re in love, you think you’ll be with your spouse forever. On top of it, there are several advantages to marriage, including healthcare perks and tax breaks. 

Unfortunately, some marriages don’t always go as planned, and you end up wanting to be as far away as possible from the person you said your “I dos” to. 

If that’s the case with you, the best way to exit your marriage is with clear guidance from a divorce lawyer. The break must happen through facilitation by legal authority, and you can acquire it through an annulment or divorce. 

But, what is the difference between annulment and divorce? 

What Is an Annulment?

An annulment is a legal procedure that declares a marriage null and void. This ruling considers the union to have never been legally valid.

Nevertheless, its records remain on file even after the termination of the marriage. 

It’s worth noting that a religious annulment is not legally recognized. Thus, should it occur, the civil marriage is still not legally dissolved.

What Is a Divorce?

A divorce is a legal termination, dissolution, or ending of a legally valid marriage by a court of law. This legal ruling declares the legal marriage to have ended, and the spouses are single again.

Close-up of divorce certification paperwork

What Is The Difference Between Annulment and Divorce?

The main difference between annulment and divorce is that an annulment officially declares a marriage to have been legally invalid from the beginning, while divorce ends a legally valid marriage. Different reasons push couples to seek a divorce or annulment.

Reasons for Divorce

No-fault divorce (neither party is required to prove fault on their spouse’s part) is legal in all states. However, in some states, you have to live apart for some time before filing for divorce. 

Most people seeking no-fault divorce cite irreconcilable differences. On the other hand, common reasons for at-fault divorces include:

  • Adultery
  • Alcoholism
  • Domestic violence
  • Desertion
  • Imprisonment
  • Neglect

Grounds For an Annulment

The legal reasons for filing for an annulment vary from state to state. However, they typically include

  • Insanity/mental illness/mental incapacity
  • Marriage of minor
  • Bigamy
  • Consent under duress
  • Concealment
  • Deception/fraud

Other Differences Between Annulment and Divorce

Still not sure which separation action is right for you? Take a look at some of the more detailed differences between the two: 

  • Divorce involves sharing the assets and liabilities of the spouse, while annulment doesn’t include any property sharing.
  • The grounds for an annulment are precise, while those for divorce (especially no-fault) may not be specific.
  • In an annulment, the witness and proof must be present while it may not be necessary for a divorce (especially no-fault).
  • Divorce usually involves alimony, but annulment doesn’t.
  • The length of time before you can file for a divorce varies between one to two years. This depends on the case, and the state determines it. On the other hand, you can file an annulment immediately after finding a reason.

How Can Vinko & Associates Help?

If you’re considering ending your marriage, it’s advisable to seek independent legal advice. It ensures you go for the best option that safeguards your interests. Whether you’re seeking a divorce or an annulment, contact Vinko & Associates. Our experienced team of divorce lawyers will advise you on how best to proceed.

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