From a shallow perspective, both divorce and annulment serve the same basic purpose of dissolving a marriage. However, when you dig deeper, you understand that these are essentially very different from each other.
Whereas when a couple gets a divorce, they’re known as formerly married, annulment puts an end to marriage as if it was never in existence. In other terms, when a marriage is annulled, it’s considered to have been illegitimate from the beginning itself.
There are a number of factors that you must take into account before deciding to go for a divorce or annulment. The family law team at Brighter Day Law, we focus on providing you guidance to make an informed decision.
What’s a No-Fault Divorce and an Uncontested Divorce?
When you or your spouse files a divorce request in a local court, a no-fault divorce may be granted depending upon applicability. As the name suggests, both partners agree to the separation and there won’t be any counterclaims to the decision. The policy for such a divorce varies from State to State and your case has to meet the requirements in order to qualify for it to be granted.
Essentially, if it can be established that your relationship is unsustainable because of major incompatibility and irresolvable disputes, you’re most likely to get a no-fault divorce. In case there are any unsettled issues concerning asset distribution, alimony, child support, custody or visitations, etc, the final verdict will be given after the court makes a decision on how to deal with these.
If however, there are no unresolved issues between you and your spouse, then you’re more likely to get an uncontested divorce. This is a better organized form of divorce, in which both the partners write down their consent on all issues like asset/liability division, child issues, etc.
This written document becomes a contract, which is also referred to as a “Divorce Settlement Agreement” and is produced before the court. As there aren’t any divorce-related disputes to be settled by the court, this kind of divorce is simpler, faster, and more economical.
What’s an Annulment?
In case of an annulment, all issues related to the child, property, business, etc are decided just as in a normal divorce. However, the difference lies in the way the law views an annulled marriage from a divorced relationship. An annulled marriage is treated as being illegal from the beginning itself. Therefore, in order to get your marriage annulled, you’ve to prove to the court that your marriage wasn’t legitimate to start with!
Every state has a set of laws to deal with annulment cases. However, the basic fundamentals are:
- Both or either of the spouses was mentally retarded or not in a perfect mental state to give his/her consent for the marriage. It may happen due to some drug or alcohol
- One of the partners hadn’t attained the lawful maturity age and parental consent was also not there
- A case of bigamy (already in marriage with another person) can be established against your spouse
- You partner is found to be your blood relative
- Marriage was based on some fraud
In order to get your marriage annulled, you need to meet the legal requirements as per your State’s regulations. Although there’s no specific benefit of annulment in comparison to divorce, some people prefer to request an annulment. This is generally because it doesn’t leave a stigma on your name and sometimes even because of religious/community reasons.
Divorce Vs Annulment
When the marriage becomes a restriction rather than a healthy bond, it’s better to end it. The question is whether you should ask for an annulment or a divorce.
You should seek annulment only when you feel that there’s adequate ground for your marriage to be declared illegal. If both partners acknowledge the existence of marriage but want to come out of it, then divorce is the right option. You may sometimes have to prove in the court that your case deserves a divorce.
No-fault divorces are gaining popularity among people. While you may continue to have some disputes with your partner, you can still apply for such a divorce.
Annulment on the other hand terminates a marriage as if it never existed. As discussed above, a marriage can be annulled if it wasn’t legit to start with. An annulment can also be awarded if some unknown facts, such as a hidden illness or an undisclosed child, etc get unearthed after the marriage.
Few cases when annulment can be sought are:
- Marriage was based on fraud or a lie
- One or both partners weren’t in a stable mental state to make a decision
- A case of bigamy (multiple marriages) can be proved
- One or both spouses were not of lawfully marriageable age
- Sexual impotence
- Hidden illness, criminal/court cases, children, etc
What are the Advantages of Annulment Over Divorce?
Annulments are generally rare because of the stringent conditions applied. Although there are no major advantages of annulment over divorce, some people do prefer to get the former. Some benefits of annulment are:
- Unlike a divorce, which may have some waiting period in some States, an annulment has no such period
- A divorce usually has a minimum residency period of 60 days to six months (varies in different States). However, there’s no such restriction for an annulment
- All transactions that may have taken place during a marriage, which has been annulled are treated as invalid
- If your spouse feels that the marriage was valid, he/she may be awarded lawyer fees by the court
- As soon as the annulment is finalized, all social security benefits get automatically reinstated for you without any delays
- An annulment also automatically ends a pre-nuptial as well as a post-nuptial agreement, which was made as part of the marriage
Does Divorce Have any Benefits Over Annulment?
A divorce is generally easier to get as it can be obtained even on a “no-fault” basis. An annulment on the other hand usually has some negative implications on one of the two partners. It may blame him/her of bigamy, fraud, impotence, forceful or underage marriage.
Related: How Much Does a Divorce Cost?
This makes it essential for you to prove your case in order to get your marriage annulled. Whereas, in order to get a divorce, you don’t need to prove any fault, especially when you file under a “no-fault” an “irreconcilable differences” case. You don’t have to appear in the court to get a divorce; whereas, in order to get your marriage annulled, both the parties have to be present in the court.
Disability and retirement benefits, property division, spousal support, etc have to be finalized in a divorce. On the other hand, all these issues get back to pre-marriage arrangements in case of annulment. The pre-nuptial, as well as post-nuptial agreements between partners, are upheld in case of a divorce while they become null and void in case of annulment.
The legal team at Brighter Day Law has extensive experience with all of the complex legal issues that divorcing couples may face, and we are ready to provide you the legal counsel you need during this challenging time
When you’re looking to find the best option between a divorce and an annulment, try and get expert advice from a professional divorce attorney. The correct alternative for you will depend upon your particular case.
With over 50 years of joint experience, Brighter Day Law attorneys provide you the best advice based on your situation. You can rest assured that your privacy will be maintained and your case will be projected in such a way that your interests are taken care of. Just contact our helpline or drop in a mail and we’ll get back to you!