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What are the major differences between an annulment and a divorce? Does it affect the responsibility of the parents to pay child support? An annulment differs from a divorce in that when a divorce is granted, the law recognizes that there was a marriage. When a marriage is annulled it is as if it never existed. However, the court will address custody, child support, and visitation when children are born of an annulled marriage.
Children of Annulled Marriages
Although most marriages are annulled not long after the wedding, sometimes it can be several years later. Annulments where children are involved are rare and they are generally granted only for a few reasons. They can include:
- The marriage was not consummated.
- One partner was underage.
- One partner was of unsound mind.
- One of the spouses was forced into getting married.
Although these are reasons for seeking an annulment, it is not a simple process. The reason for the annulment will have to proven and a lawyer needs to be consulted. This does not release either spouse from the financial responsibilities of caring for children that were born while they were married.
Legal Recourse for Child Support
Children born to a couple seeking an annulment will generally go through the same type of procedures as couples seeking a divorce. The courts will decide which parent will receive custody of the child or children based on their best interests.
Child support will be decided in the same way it would if the couple were actually getting divorced. The children are not considered illegitimate even though an annulled marriage is viewed as never having happened. If one of the parents does not provide the financial support that is ordered by the court, it will be enforced the same as any child support order.
Visitation will be addressed in the same way. A formal order will be issued by the court stating the decisions made addressing all of these issues. Even though the marriage will be viewed as never having happened, the children will still have the same rights including inheritance rights as children of divorce.
Generally when there are children involved, the annulment process will be a bit more complicated than if there were no children. It can take longer and some states may require that a paternity test be performed to ensure parentage.
The standards above are just the basic ones for an annulment. Some states and counties may have different rules and time lines. Often the annulment must be filed within two years of the date of the marriage although some states may require less time. It is best to consult an attorney to be certain of the laws of your state regarding annulment especially when there are child support and custody issues involved.