Ending a Marriage: Differences Between Divorce and Annulment

Differences Between Divorce and Annulment
Even though divorce is a common occurrence, many people don’t realize that there are actually multiple ways to end a marriage. While there's a familiarity with the concept of a divorce, there is actually another way for a marriage to end, called an annulment. Before a couple decides that they want to end their marriage, it is important for a couple to decide how they want their marriage to end because there are important legal and financial implications that need to be considered.

Divorce

A divorce is the legal dissolution of a marriage that most people are familiar with. Each spouse leaves the marriage and returns to the status of single, giving them the opportunity to remarry if they decide to do so. Each state has a slightly different set of requirements that must be met for a divorce to be finalized; however, there are several important issues that a couple going through a divorce needs to keep in mind. There is a significant amount of legal paperwork that needs to be filed, most couples will have their tax implications change, and the property needs to be labeled and divided. The divorce is even more complex if children are involved.

Annulment

An annulment is different from a divorce because it is a label given to a marriage that, legally, should never have been allowed in the first place. If a marriage is annulled, it is considered null and void and is treated as though it never existed. While each state may have a slightly different set of rules for how a marriage can be annulled, a few of the common reasons include:
  • Bigamy: One of the two spouses was already married to someone else at the time the marriage license for the marriage in question was granted.
  • Nonconsensual: One of the two parties was forced to agree to the marriage.
  • Marriage is Illegal: For example, an incestuous marriage is considered illegal.
  • Underage: One of the two spouses is too young to legally enter into the marriage.
  • Fraud: One of the two spouses had been misrepresenting their identity to the other party.
These are only a few of the many reasons that someone could have a marriage annulled. Anyone who is considering ending a marriage should consider contacting an experienced attorney for assistance.
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