Whether you seek an annulment or a divorce, the intention remains the same and that is, you no longer want to maintain your state of marital union. Both annulment and divorce require a legal court procedure that results in dissolution of the marriage.
The main difference between the two is that while divorce is the end of marriage, annulment voids the marriage and marriage contract. Annulment is almost like not having been married at all. In semantic as well as legal terms, after an annulment, a person is considered “single” or “unmarried”, whereas after a divorce, a person is considered as “divorced.”
Annulment is of two types:
The Top 10 Royal Weddings that ended in divorce
- Civil annulment – this type of annulment is granted by the state government after following a legal court procedure.
- Religious annulment – this type of annulment is granted by the Roman Catholic Church as well as some other religious institutions. One has to obtain the religious annulment after a civil divorce. It is generally done so that either of the people concerned may remarry within the church and get their second marriage recognized by the church. The grounds for religious annulment are different than those for civil annulments.
Grounds for annulment are known as the diriment impediment to marriage. The time limit on annulment differs from state to state and the legal required time frame usually begins when the reason for annulment is discovered and not the time of the wedding ceremony.
It is to be noted that the grounds for civil annulment are much stricter than grounds for divorce and vary slightly from state to state. At least one of the given reasons should be present in order to file for a civil annulment:
- Non-consummation of marriage– when one spouse is impotent and is unable to physically have sexual intercourse and the other spouse had no pre-knowledge of that fact.
- Incest– when the spouses are close blood relatives making their marriage invalid according to the laws of the state where they got married.
- Fraud– when one spouse hides some crucial information such as criminal history, which would adversely affect the health of the marriage making it untenable, from the other. It is also termed as misrepresentation.
- Underage– when one of the spouses or both are under the legal age of consent.
- Bigamy– when one of the spouses was still in a legal marriage with one spouse, even whilst getting married to another.
- Forced marriage– when one of the spouses was coerced into getting married to the other.
- Unsound mind– when one or both of the spouses was either in a state of intoxication from drugs, alcohol etc, leading to impaired mind or judgment during the time of the wedding or didn’t have the mental faculties to comprehend about the wedding or even consent to it. In cases of intoxication, the plea for annulment has to be be filed within sixty days of the wedding ceremony.
Generally, annulments occur after being married for a short time, thus issues of division of assets or debts, child support or their custody and visitations are not involved and the court generally prefers that property of individual is returned to him or her. In cases of long-term marriage annulments, most states have laid down rules for division of property and debt as well as children related issues and alimony and these often are similar to that of divorce proceedings. Even though annulment is considered to void marriage, children born under the marital union are not considered illegitimate. Most states require that individuals file the same petition form for both annulment as well as divorce.
The social implications differ for annulment and divorce these days, so while divorce no longer has a negative connotation, annulment does point to one of the spouses having done something wrong when getting married. In addition, many states permit the no-fault divorce, which does not require either of the parties involved to prove wrong-doing.