One process used to terminate a marriage is called annulment. Whenever a court awards a petition for annulment, the court is essentially declaring the marriage nullified. Annulment differs from divorce in that once a divorce is awarded, the marriage is dissolved.
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The fact that a divorced couple was once married will always remain after it has been awarded in court. This means the parties will still be responsible for spousal maintenance, child support, etc. Conversely, an annulment says the marriage never existed. Typically, there is no time period following the marriage by which the annulment must be sought. Acquiring an annulment sooner rather than later, though, is recommended. The longer one or both parties wait to start the annulment process, the more convoluted it will become for the court to fairly assess and address legal matters.
Any party that waits a long time to file, may have a harder time submitting proof. For example, memories can become scattered and witnesses may pass away. A popular reason why individuals request an annulment is to escape any sort of religious or social disfavor of divorce.
Annulling A Void Marriage
An annulment demonstrates that a marriage never happened legally, compared to a divorce which dissolves the marriage entirely. For annulment qualification, your marriage must be either legally void or voidable. If your marriage does not fit into either of these classifications, you may be forced to proceed with a divorce in lieu.
So, what is a void marriage, exactly? A void marriage is a marriage that doesn’t legally exist and is also against the law in a number of states. Certain types of marriage, such as incestuous marriage or bigamous marriage, are not considered authentic. Therefore, you can typically annul these marriages at any time, as long as all parties are still alive.
Annulling A Voidable Marriage
A voidable marriage differs from a void marriage in a pretty significant way. These marriages are legally recognized, but are so faulty that the law says it should not be recognized. For example, if one spouse was misled or didn’t understand due to mental incapacity, a court could determine this to be a voidable marriage.
It is possible to annul voidable marriages in the majority of states. A court will usually take into consideration your actions following a ruling on a voidable marriage. Timeframes for an annulment will vary by state, of course. Virginia, for example, requires the party to file within two years of the marriage. Demonstrating that your marriage is voidable or void will take some time and resources. It is suggested to start collecting documents required to prepare for court proceedings. Visit your state’s website for more information regarding this process.
- Banks, L. (2020, August 03). What’s the legal difference between annulment and divorce? Retrieved February 02, 2021, from https://www.legalzoom.com/articles/whats-the-legal-difference-between-annulment-and-divorce
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