The main difference between an annulment and a divorce is how the marriage is viewed. In an annulment, the marriage contract is deemed void or voidable. If granted, it’s as if the event of marriage never took place. You are “single,” not “divorced.” In a divorce, the marriage is presumed valid. In some states, the parties must prove/testify that their marriage has broken down irretrievably with no hope of reconciliation to obtain a dissolution of marriage.
Now, although the contract of marriage was deficient for some reason, this does not mean that the parties just walk away after an annulment as if nothing happened. The laws provide protection to children and spouses of annulled marriages. Children are deemed legitimate. The court, pursuant to the annulment process, is able to make orders regarding custody, child support, alimony and property division as in divorce and legal separation cases. The same factors that the court considers for these decisions are the same for annulment cases. Whether you are looking for an annulment or a divorce, if property or children are involved, it makes sense to discuss your situation with a good family law attorney.
It is important to note that there are completely different rules and procedures for a religious annulment verses a civil annulment. Throughout this article I am referring to civil annulments. Civil annulments are not common since most marriages are considered valid. I suspect that many couples who may qualify for an annulment chose instead to proceed with dissolution of marriage actions for privacy reasons since the resulting orders are not likely to be much different. Those who proceed with the civil annulment likely do so for religious reasons.
Please contact Bellenot & Boufford, LLC for assistance and to discuss any further questions you may have. There is no charge for the initial phone consultation.