Divorce

The Difference Between a Divorce and An Annulment

When we marry someone we love, we hope that the union is forever. We hope our love will grow and as it does, we will put all of our efforts into cultivating our trust, dedication, and loyalty to each other. However, sometimes it simply doesn’t happen. Sometimes, we grow in different ways, and sometimes our love grows cold. Sometimes, there is nothing that can save the marriage and it is reasonable and agreeable to legally end it.

File for divorce

When a couple decides to end their marriage, they usually contact a divorce attorney and file for a divorce. This is the most common way to end your marriage. Both spouses will hire an attorney. A value will be set on the family assets and they will be divided. The couple will work on issues such as who will keep the family home or if it will be sold. Here are other very important things that will be decided:

  • Who will have custody of the children
  • Visitation of the children
  • Who will have custody and care of the family pets
  • The amount of alimony to be paid and which spouse must pay it
  • The amount of child support to be paid
  • Who will pay for medical insurance for the children
  • How retirement funds will be divided

As you can see, the majority of the considerations are about money. Children cost a lot of money to raise. Just because parents are divorcing, doesn’t mean the children should have to suffer. The children are already dealing with the loss of a parent in the home, they should not have to struggle with the loss of their activities as well.

Annulment

There is a second way to end a marriage. This is a less common way, but it is a legal way. Further, when you seek a divorce, you record states that you were married but divorced after “X” number of years. An annulment voids your marriage. Your record reflects that you have never married. There are a few reasons why the court will consider an annulment. Again, the end result is a civil annulment, which means in the eyes of the law, your marriage never happened. They take this very seriously. You will need to contact your lawyer for a complete list, but here are some of the more common reasons:

  • Fraud
    • You were lied to about your partner’s age which caused or could cause legal problems.
    • Your partner was already married to someone else. They did not obtain a divorce, nor did they tell you about their marriage
  • Concealment
    • Your partner hid a felony record from you
    • Your partner was in an illegal crime ring which put you in danger
  • Important Misunderstanding
    • One of you did not or do not want to have children. This deal breaker was not discussed before the wedding
    • One of you are impotent and did not tell your partner, preventing them from being able to have a child in the marriage
    • Incest – the discovery that the two of you are close family relatives
  • Lack of consent
    • Being forced into marriage by the spouse, parent, or physical force

Annulments are governed by the laws of the state. When the state rules on an annulment it is legally settled. However, many people feel the need to have their church rule on the annulment as well. That is certainly your right. However, regardless of the rulings of the church, once the state has annulled the marriage, it will forever be annulled in the government systems.

In the Catholic Church, a diocesan tribunal hears your case rather than a court. You present facts that help them decide if the marriage was less than a covenant for life. You have to show them that it was lacking in some way from the beginning. It can be based on dishonesty, immaturity, and most of the reasons listed above. Either spouse can request the annulment.

If the annulment is granted, the spouses will be allowed to marry again (since the first time never happened) in the Catholic church.

Note: State annulment and church annulment have three things in common.

  • The original marriage never happened
  • The couple can remarry
  • The is no question to the legitimacy of the children

If you have questions, contact your attorney. The sooner you act, the sooner you are free from this world-changing event in your life.

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