What is the Difference Between a Divorce and an Annulment?

When it comes to divorce, many people have questions about the difference between a divorce and an annulment. These terms are often confused and people tend to wonder which solution is best for their situation. Both are legal ways to end a marriage in a court of family law. The difference is in how the marriage is ended. It’s important to understand the laws that apply in your state so that you understand whether a divorce or an annulment is right for you. Consulting a family law attorney will help you move forward in the most effective manner.

An annulment erases the marriage completely. Essentially, the marriage never existed and was not ever legally valid. It’s important to keep in mind that the family court will keep marriage records on file. Divorce is the dissolution of a marriage through legal means. The marriage is still considered valid. After the divorce, both parties return to their single status and are able to remarry. There are also religious annulments but these are only applicable within the church they are performed and are not legal proceedings.

Each state’s family law courts have their own particular guidelines when it comes to both divorce and annulment. However, there are requirements that apply throughout the United States.  Divorce is typically handled by a family law court. In some cases, couples go through mediation if they feel they can solve their issues in a calm manner.

Divorce can be complicated because every state family law court has its own set of regulations. In some states, no-fault divorces are legal which means that neither party has to be named as a guilty party. Other states require a finding of fault for issues such as physical abuse, mental abuse, adultery or desertion.

An annulment ends the marital union because the marriage shouldn’t have happened for any number of reasons. Either party can request an annulment in family law court. There are a variety of bases for annulment in a family law court if the charge can be proven. These included forced consent to the marriage, bigamy or multiple marriages, mental illness, underage marriage or a spouse’s inability to consummate the marriage. Other bases for annulment include mental incapacity, fraud and marriages prohibited by law.