Annulment or Divorce

What is an annulment?
Annulment, like divorce, is a legal dissolution of a marriage. Unlike divorce, annulment is retroactive: annulment means that the marriage never occurred, or that circumstances at the time of the marriage made it so that a legal marriage could not have occurred. Reasons for legal annulment can differ from reasons for religious annulment, and the two are not always inclusive. Dissolving a civil union is another way a relationship may be terminated.

Is annulment the same thing as divorce?
No, because divorce acknowledges that a legal marriage took place. Some individuals also believe that divorce carries a negative social connotation, and will seek out annulment as a more palatable solution to an unhappy marriage. For those who are religious, there is often an additional impetus to seek annulment, as some churches will not allow divorced individuals to remarry within the church. Legal rights for second marriages may also differ.

Can I get an annulment if I haven't been recently married?
Yes-there is no time limit set for individuals seeking an annulment. However, it is often more difficult to procure an annulment after several years of marriage. Seeking an early annulment (within a few weeks or months of the marriage) is often preferable anyway, as these unions don't generally deal with complicated divisions of assets or children.

How does annulment deal with assets and children?
Although annulment does treat a marriage as though it never existed, children produced through that marriage are still considered to be legitimate. Assets, debts, and properties are usually divided according to state laws. Spouses may also be entitled to spousal support in some cases.

Can I get an annulment without a lawyer?
Yes, but it is still wise to speak to a family law lawyer before proceeding. Annulment can be a very confusing process, and if you have children or valuable assets to consider, it is in your best interest to consult with annulment lawyers. Religious annulments should be pursued through your church.

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