Unfortunately, not all relationships last and not all marriages last. The divorce rate is at least 50 percent in the United States alone. If your relationship is simply not worth saving anymore, you might want to consider getting a divorce. However, in some cases, you might want to get an annulment instead.
What is the Difference Between an Annulment and a Divorce?
Annulments and divorces generally work in the same manner as in ending a marriage between two people. However, they include different proceedings that are based on different legal theories. When you seek a divorce, it essentially ends the marriage in a valid way and recognizes the marriage as having been legal. With an annulment, it generally means that the marriage never existed in the first place. A person who doesn’t believe in divorce may opt for getting an annulment instead. Some people may have religious reasons for wanting an annulment instead of a divorce.
What are the Grounds for an Annulment?
It’s important to remember that an annulment treats a marriage as though it never even existed. As a result, there must be certain factors involved in the marriage that serve as grounds for an annulment. Some of the most common of those grounds are as follows:
• The spouse committed fraud or there was misrepresentation that involved a material fact. Generally, this could involve a number of things, such as misrepresenting one’s age or ability to reproduce.
• The spouse concealed a material fact. For instance, the individual could be an alcoholic or drug addict, has a prison record or a sexually transmitted disease and withheld that information from their spouse.
• There was a misunderstanding between the parties about wanting to have children. If the individual led their spouse to believe he or she wanted children, it could be grounds for an annulment.
• Inability or refusal to consummate the marriage. This is grounds for an annulment because one party would not or could not have sex with their spouse.
• One party had a lack of legal capacity to consent to get married. If the individual suffers from a significant mental disability, they could not legally consent to the marriage.
• One of the parties was still legally married at the time when the marriage took place. This would mean that the marriage is unlawful because the individual who was already married would be committing bigamy.
• The person seeking the annulment was under the age of 18 at the time of the marriage. If someone is underage, it can be grounds for an annulment.
Statute of Limitations on Annulments
In some states, there is a statute of limitations that dictate when an annulment can take place. That means if someone wants to annul their marriage, they must file for the annulment within that specific time frame before the statute of limitations expires. The statute can be in place for annulment cases that involve the following scenarios:
• 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?
An annulment does not interfere with the legal paternity of any children who might have been born during the course of a marriage. The judge may ask about the paternity of the children or ask the father to declare paternity during annulment proceedings. Additionally, the judge can make orders regarding custody, visitation and child support. However, in most states, there is no requirement regarding spousal support or division of property.
When Divorce is a Factor
When one spouse files for an annulment, the other can potentially file for divorce. With a divorce, there is no statute of limitations on when to file. The court can also determine issues such as spousal support, division of property, child custody, visitation and support. The only requirement necessary to get a divorce instead of an annulment is irreconcilable differences that have determined that the marriage is no longer salvageable.
If you are looking to get an annulment, contact an experienced attorney for assistance at your earliest convenience.