When dissolving a marriage, most couples opt for a divorce. However, in certain circumstances, it might be possible to end a marriage through an annulment, which effectively declares that your union is null and void. From a legal perspective, it’s as if your wedding never happened.
Given that the result is the same - in both cases, the marriage is over - you might wonder why anyone would choose an annulment over a divorce. If you can prove that you have grounds for an annulment, it can have significant implications regarding property division, alimony, how soon you can remarry, and much, much more.
So what are the main advantages of an annulment over a divorce? How do you qualify? How hard is it to collect the necessary proof, and what are the implications of the fact that your marriage is unlawful? Read on for the answers to these key questions.
The most significant difference between annulment and divorce is that divorce represents the end of a legal marriage, whereas annulments represent a marriage that never happened.
Another critical difference is that you need to prove why your marriage is invalid to obtain an annulment. A divorce, by comparison, can proceed on a “no-fault” basis.
There are many practical differences, too. You can file for an annulment immediately, but with a divorce, your state may require a cooling-off period. With an annulment, there’s no formal division of marital property, and no alimony is payable. Finally, your marital status at the end of the process is single or unmarried, as opposed to divorce.
If you think that you have grounds for an annulment, it’s worth exploring all your options. You may be much better off financially, have a faster resolution, and enjoy much greater flexibility at the end of your marriage. However, whichever option you choose, remember that there’s a lot of hard work involved in preparing for separation.
Is an annulment preferable to a divorce? The answer to that question depends on which side of the divide you‘re on. With an annulment, one party may receive a significant financial boost at the expense of the other. It’s often said that there are no winners in a divorce, but that may not be so with an annulment.
That said, it’s also true that both sides can benefit equally from a marriage being annulled. In addition, every separation is unique and must therefore be considered on a case-by-case basis.
If you can provide compelling legal proof that your union should be declared null and void, then your partner has little choice about the marriage being annulled. However, there’s a big difference between making an allegation and proving it in a court of law.
The list of possible reasons for annulment is surprisingly long. Incest, bigamy, one party being a minor, a spouse being of unsound mind, coercion, fraud, concealment or misrepresentation of facts, and impotence may all be used as justification for an annulment. But some of these reasons are a whole lot harder to prove than others.
Note also that in some states, statutes of limitation may apply. In other words, after a certain period, you may not be able to file for an annulment. So before doing anything, you should check out the relevant legislation in your state.
There are many good reasons for choosing an annulment over a divorce. Emotionally, family-wise, and financially, you might be better off with an annulment. The process is usually far quicker than with a divorce, too.
So let’s look in more detail at three of the principal reasons why an annulment might be preferable to a divorce.
In the eyes of the law, an annulment means that your marriage never existed. That fact may be fundamental to you, both emotionally and psychologically. There may also be other practical and positive implications for you from a financial, religious, or family perspective.
If you’re keen to remarry, having an annulment can make a big difference. It means that you’re free to marry a new partner immediately, without the time constraints, financial considerations, legal complications, and religious issues that may be associated with a divorce. Remember, you’re considered single or unmarried again after an annulment.
Another important consideration is that there’s no division of marital assets and debts after an annulment. Essentially, you both go back to where you were before you got married. That could be hugely significant if you married someone who hid their massive debts from you, for example.
Divorce and annulment are both complicated matters, so you must get the best legal advice. Whether you’re seeking or contesting an annulment, a specialist family lawyer can guide you through all the relevant areas: what the law says on annulments, how to collect and present evidence, the best strategies to use in court, and what chance you have of winning your case. They can also advise you on other options to end your marriage.
The stakes are usually very high with an annulment, so seeking professional legal advice from a trusted family lawyer could save you a lot of money, time and hassle, and ensure you reach the best possible outcome.
It may be challenging to collect solid evidence and involve a lot of hard work. Still, if you can prove that you’re entitled to an annulment, it can have a massively beneficial and positive impact on your life - and not just financially. But because it’s such a complex legal area, you’re well-advised to work on your case with an experienced family attorney.