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It’s a sad fact of our society that not every relationship or marriage lasts. In the United States, at least 50 percent of couples divorce. If you’ve gotten to the point that you believe your relationship is beyond saving, it might be worth considering a divorce. There are certain circumstances, though, where an annulment might be better than a divorce.
Annulments Versus Divorces
There are some similarities and differences between annulments and divorces. The two proceedings serve the same purpose. They end a marriage between partners. However, the steps involved in the proceedings are very different. They’re rooted in different types of legal theory.
When you look for a divorce, you’re ending your marriage legally. The divorce solidifies the fact that the marriage was legal and binding. With an annulment, though, the marriage legally dissolves like it had never existed at all. If you don’t believe that couples should divorce, you might want an annulment to dissolve a marriage that was a mistake. Some individuals cite religious reasons for choosing an annulment over divorce.
When an Annulment Can Happen
When you consider annulments, you should keep in mind that they treat marriages like the marriage did not exist in the first place. For this to happen, the marriage must have one of several potential factors to be the grounds for an annulment. There are a number of different common situations.
One example would be a spouse committing fraud or misrepresenting a fact. They may have misrepresented their reproductive ability or age. The idea is that the other party entered the marriage under false pretenses.
A marriage can also be annulled if a person’s spouse concealed an important fact from them. If the person was a drug addict or alcoholic, had a prison record, or had a sexually transmitted disease, and that information was withheld, there may be grounds for divorce.
Annulments can also sometimes occur when the parties misunderstand each other about having children. If an individual made their spouse believe they both wanted children, and then decided they didn’t want children, this is sometimes considered just cause for an annulment.
A marriage can be annulled if one party is unable to or refuses to consummate their marriage. If one person cannot or will not have sex with the spouse, this is considered grounds for annulment.
Marriages are sometimes annulled if one party was not legally capable of consenting to the marriage. This includes people who are underage as well as people with significant mental disabilities.
If one of the spouses was still married to another person, their new marriage would not be considered valid. The marriage would be unlawful and would be overturned.
As previously mentioned, marriages can be annulled if the party wishing for the annulment was below legal adulthood when the marriage occurred. Even if they’re over the age of 18 when they seek the annulment, they still have grounds to have their marriage annulled.
Statute of Limitations
The exact laws and guidelines regarding marriage annulments vary widely from state to state. Some states have imposed a statute of limitations on annulments. This means that there is a specific time period in which annulments can take place. If the couple waits too long, they will legally have to divorce rather than getting an annulment.
If you’re seeking an annulment, it’s important to be familiar with your state’s regulations. Failing to file your paperwork in time could bar you from having your marriage annulled at all.
Marriage Annulments Involving Children
Annulments have no bearing on the legal paternity status of any children born during the marriage. In some cases, the judge may ask the father to declare paternity over the children during the annulment. The declaration of paternity helps solidify the father’s paternal rights. The judge then has the power to issue orders about child support, visitation, and custody. In the majority of states, annulments do not involve dividing property or paying spousal support.
Divorce as a Factor
There are some cases in which one party files for an annulment, and the other party responds by filing for divorce. Divorces don’t have any statute of limitations. Divorces also tend to have more complex proceedings because the court determines property division, child custody, child support, and spousal support.
If one of the spouses wishes for a divorce rather than annulment, their only requirement is to cite irreconcilable differences that have destroyed the relationship.
If you want an annulment, you should contact an experienced attorney.