It is unfortunate but not all relationships or marriages always last. If you feel that your relationship does not deserve to be saved anymore, you may want to explore the option of getting divorced. However, there may be cases in which getting an annulment instead would be a wiser option.

What is the Difference Between an Annulment and a Divorce? Annulments and divorces work towards the same end result of ending a marriage between a married couple. The two are, however, different in legal proceedings since the legal theories they are based on are also different. When one seeks a divorce, the proceedings work to terminate the marriage in a valid manner and this means that the marriage was recognized as valid. An annulment decrees that a marriage never existed in the first place, rendering it null and void. Someone who does not believe in the option of getting a divorce may instead opt for an annulment. Religious beliefs and reasons could be the reason why some people opt for annulments instead of divorces.

What are the Grounds for an Annulment? Here, it is imperative to note that an annulment renders a marriage null and void. Hence, there must be certain factors in the marriage that can serve as grounds for getting an annulment. Some of the grounds are:

  • Some kind of fraud was committed by the spouse or material facts were misrepresented. This could involve most basic things such as misrepresenting one’s ability to reproduce or one’s age.
    A material fact had been concealed by the spouse. Generally, this could include situations such as, the spouse is a drug addict or alcoholic, has a sexually transmitted disease or prison record and such information was withheld from the spouse.
  • A misunderstanding regarding wanting to have children arose between the spouses. In case the individual led their spouse into believing that he or she wanted to have children, it could count as grounds for annulment.
  • Another ground for annulment would be if the other spouse is unable to or refuses to consummate the marriage because it means that one party would or could not have sex with their spouse.
  • The lack of legal capacity to get married on one party’s side. A person could not legally give their consent to the marriage if he/she happens to suffer from a significant mental disability.
  • If one of the parties was legally still married to someone else at the time the marriage took place. This would automatically mean that the marriage is unlawful because bigamy was committed by the person who was already married.
  • The person who has sought annulment was under the age of 18 when the marriage took place. Being underage is grounds for seeking annulment.

Limitations on Annulments A statute of limitations exists in some states and this dictates when an annulment can take place. This means that if someone intends to get their marriage annulled, they are required to file for annulment within a specific period of time, before the statute of limitations expires. Annulment cases involving the below mentioned scenarios fall under the statute:

  • The marriage involved a person who was under age 18
  • Concealment of a fact was discovered after the marriage took place
  • There was a misunderstanding between the parties about wanting to have children
  • One of the parties was forced to consent to the marriage

What Happens with an Annulment When Children are Involved? The legal paternity of any children born during the course of a marriage cannot be interfered with by an annulment. The judge, however, may have questions regarding the paternity of the children and can also ask the father to declare paternity during the course of the annulment proceedings. In addition to this, the judge has the authority to make orders regarding visitation, child support and custody. Spousal support and division of property do not demand such requirements in most states.

When Divorce is a Factor On one hand, a spouse may file for an annulment while on the other hand their partner might potentially file for divorce. For obtaining a divorce there is no statute of limitations or restrictions on when to file. The court has the right to determine necessary things such as division of property, spousal support, child custody and visitation. In order to get a divorce rather than an annulment, the only requirement is stating irreconcilable differences that have deemed the marriage unsalvageable.

If you are planning to seek an annulment, you must contact an experienced lawyer for assistance at the earliest.