What Is the Difference Between a Divorce & an Annulment?

Read About Annulment From Our Family Law Attorneys

There are two options available to individuals looking to end a marriage or a domestic partnership legally. They are a divorce and an annulment, and the two have many differences and similarities. As most family law attorneys in Hernando County, Florida, would tell you, the most significant difference between a divorce and an annulment is that a divorce ends a legally valid marriage. In contrast, the annulment formally declares the union to have been legally invalid.

To better understand both divorces and annulments, let’s take a better look at their legal definitions:

Divorce: This is a legal dissolving, termination, and ending of a legally valid marriage. A divorce ends a legal marriage and declares both spouses to be single again.

Annulment: This is a legal ruling that erases a marriage by declaring it null and void and essentially stating that the union was never legally valid. However, the marriage records do remain on file even if the marriage itself is erased. That means an annulment does not mean that your marriage never happened; it simply means that it was never legally valid.

There are different reasons for pursuing an annulment or a divorce, but the core reason for both is that one or both spouses no longer want to be in the union. Divorces are much more common because there are fewer obstacles in the way. For example, a divorce can be due to a fault, such as abandonment, adultery, imprisonment, or no fault due to irreconcilable differences.

On the other hand, an annulment requires that at least one party believes the marriage should have never occurred. While the legal grounds for obtaining an annulment vary from state to state, the most common reasons include believing that one or both of the spouses were forced or tricked into the marriage, that one or both of the spouses were not able to make a decision to marry due to drugs, alcohol, or a mental disability, the marriage was incestuous, bigamy, or one of both of the spouses were not of legal age.