Divorce and annulments are both legal processes for ending a marriage. However, there are significant differences between the two in both legal definition and implementation. A divorce is known as a dissolution of marriage and legally ends the marriage. An annulment, on the other hand, voids the original marriage contract, as if the marriage had never taken place. A family law attorney should be consulted in both cases, as specifics and nuances in laws vary from state to state.
Annulments also have a specific condition that must have occurred in order to be granted. Parties must prove that the marriage was invalid from the start and should be voided. While there are many reasons why this may be true, some of the most common are:
Concealment – When a spouse conceals things like impotency, a felony convictions, or an addiction.
Misrepresentation - If a spouse lies about being the age of consent, already being married, or having the capacity to have children.
Consummation of Marriage - If a spouse refuses or is unable to consummate the marriage.
If both parties are are blood relatives or close relatives by adoption or marriage.
If either spouse was forced into the marriage.
Still, an annulment may not be granted in every case, even if any of the above examples are true.
In most cases, annulments are granted for marriages that have only lasted a short period of time. In these cases there are typically no assets to divide or children for whom visitation and support issues must be considered. In the event of a long term marriage annulment, states usually have provisions for the division of assets and property, and for child custody and support. In California, for example, community property laws do not apply to annulments unless one can prove putative status. This means that you believed that the marriage was legal and valid under California law when you entered upon it.
If you have any questions about either divorce or annulment and you live in the San Jose area, contact family law Nicole L. Aeschleman to explore all of your legal options.