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How Does an Annulment Work?

Sometimes, people who initially wanted to stay together for years and got married come to drift away over the course of that marriage. In such a situation, splitting up makes more sense than forcing yourself to stay together. 


However, according to experts from, as well as countless divorcees, pursuing a decision to part ways often proves to be a complicated ordeal.


Have you decided to get a divorce? What about seeking annulment of your marriage? You might be wondering how it all works, what the differences between a divorce and an annulment are, and what steps you should take to make the entire process as easy as possible given the circumstances that you have found yourself in.


In spite of the fact that both an annulment and a divorce end a marriage, it is essential to note that not all marriages can be annulled. Sometimes, rigorous requirements have to be met so that the marriage can be annulled. In addition, the legal terms associated with it might sound confusing and weird. Here is an overview of what you can expect regarding an annulment of marriage and a short description of the main differences between a divorce and an annulment!


What Is an Annulment?


Annulment is a legal procedure that cancels a marriage. From a legal perspective, if marriage gets annulled, it is declared that it never existed and was never valid. In other words, like it never happened. An annulment can be divided into two types – civil and religious.


It is important to keep in mind that each state has its own laws regarding marriage annulment and divorce. However, specific requirements apply nationwide. For example, both partners can initiate an annulment, and the initiating party is obliged to prove that they have the grounds to do so. If it is proven, the court can consider a marriage to be null and void.


Civil Annulment


A civil annulment is granted by a judge, and it terminates a marriage. If your marriage is annulled by a judge, it is like it never even happened. It might be sought by either spouse if they file a legal request with the court. The legal request has to state the grounds for annulment. Here are the most common reasons for an annulment!


  • Underage marriage. Either spouse was too young when they entered the marriage and had no parental consent or court approval.

  • Bigamy. At the time of the marriage, either spouse was already married to another person.

  • Mental incompetence. One of the spouses got married under the influence of drugs or alcohol or did not have the mental capacity to understand the marriage ceremony or to provide consent.

  • Failure to consummate the marriage. Either spouse is physically unable to have sexual intercourse and did not disclose this information to the other spouse before getting married.

  • Fraud or misrepresentation. One of the spouses hid an important fact. For instance, one of the spouses did not tell the other spouse about the fact that they are in financial debt.


Religious Annulment


That kind of annulment can be issued by a church or a religious tribunal instead of a court. However, a religious annulment does not terminate a legal marriage. If you get a religious annulment, it does not guarantee that the court will grant you a civil annulment. The church might also not recognize a civil annulment.


Differences Between an Annulment and a Divorce


Divorce is a dissolution of marriage through a legal process, which starts when a spouse files a petition in a court of law. It ends a valid marriage and returns both parties to single status, allowing them to remarry. Unlike annulment, it does not invalidate the marriage. Instead, it simply ends it. 


While each state has different rules governing divorce, all allow some form of no-fault divorce. In case of no-fault divorce, either spouse can file for it without being obliged to prove who caused the breakdown of the marriage. In some states, spouses are allowed to seek a fault-based divorce, citing grounds such as adultery, cruelty, and desertion.


During the divorce process, a judge divides marital property and debts, which is not done when it comes to an annulment. In the case of an annulment, you were never legally married, so there is no marital property and no marital debts.


Similarities Between an Annulment and a Divorce


Both divorce and annulment are legal ways to end a marriage. The outcome of both is also similar. In the end, you are single again and free to remarry. On top of that, a spouse who seeks an annulment has to provide proof that they have the grounds to do so, just like a spouse seeking a fault-based divorce.


In Conclusion


In the end, it is the laws of the state that you live in that will determine whether your annulment or divorce will be a simple or a complex process. Because of that, you should familiarize yourself with the local laws and learn about your rights and responsibilities when it comes to putting a legal end to a marriage. It can be time-consuming and frustrating, but it will help you determine what is ahead of you, as well as which legal process is best for the situation that you are in.

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