Divorce vs Annulment

Divorce vs Annulment

By Michael J. Costantino, Esq.

The terms “divorce” and “annulment” can be confusing, and most times people do not know the difference between them. The two words are similar, and that is, they are two different lawful ways of ending a marriage.

Divorce (or the dissolution of marriage) is the termination of a marital union, the canceling and/or reorganizing of the legal duties and responsibilities of marriage, thus dissolving the bonds of matrimony between a married couple under the rule of law of the particular country and/or state. (Wikipedia)

On the other hand, an annulment is an act of declaring a marriage invalid in the eyes of the law and separating the couple. It declares that marriage was not applicable in the first place. An annulment is suitable for a marriage that is entered into under false pretenses. Unlike divorce, annulment erases the marriage from the records of both parties and treats the marriage as if it never happened at all.

Alimony is applicable, if the circumstances are right, in divorce cases. That is you can make a claim or be demanded to pay alimony only in a divorce case. Alimony is not applicable in annulment cases.

An annulment is not just awarded because the two sides agree to it; have a change of heart, are no longer happy with the marriage, or consider the marriage a mistake. A valid legal argument must be presented before the marriage can be declared null and void ab initio.

There are conditions under which a marriage can be annulled, and they include bigamy, forced consent, fraud (misrepresentation), marriage prohibited by law, and mental instability among others. Meanwhile, having an experienced divorce attorney will help to simplify the divorce or annulment procedures. It is best to hire an experienced divorce attorney who will examine the case and all possibilities before filing for a divorce or annulment.

The process for divorce and annulment are the same – same proceedings and same hearings. However, it is a lot easier to obtain an annulment than a divorce. Getting a divorce is a complicated process because of several decisions to be made as regards division of assets and liabilities, child custody and support payments, and alimony payments which are not considered when giving an annulment. While an annulment is main and only focus is whether or not the marriage is void or voidable.