Divorce or Annulment – What is The Difference?

June 17, 2013 by Janelle Coulton  
Published in Marriage

When a marriage is not working and the couples have decided enough is enough they will usually have a decision to make. Separate; file for divorce or an annulment.

There are officially three legal ways of ending a marriage, however with an annulment there is a specific criteria that must be proven to a judge.

Getting an annulment or a divorce may seem like they are one in the same, however there are actually some big differences between the two options. An annulment, if granted will render the marriage null and void, as if it did not happen or should not have happened. A divorce is a legal ending of the marriage. Both spouses are free to remarry, and now have complete freedom. The spouse who initiates the ending of a marriage must prove that a divorce or annulment is warranted.

When it comes to individual laws, all countries have their own rules and grounds for divorce and annulment. And in the US, Australia or the UK the rules would be different based on which state you both reside in. Some of the general grounds for divorce and annulment are laid out below.

Reasons An Annulment Might Be Granted

*If it is discovered that one spouse was already married before the current marriage took place then the current marriage becomes null and void. This is called bigamy and is illegal.

*The marriage was a total case of fraud; meaning that when one spouse married the other spouse they were not aware of the person they were marrying. It has now come to light that their new spouse has seriously misrepresented themselves before the wedding took place.

*One spouse is unable to become pregnant or does not want to provide children or the spouse may be impotent which negates a sexual relationship and the marriage is not consummated.

*There is a case of mental illness with one of the spouses and it is proven that this person was not in their right mind when they took their vows. Or one spouse was under duress or severely stressed at the time of the marriage.

*One of both spouses were extremely intoxicated with alcohol, illegal drugs or any mind altering medication at the time of getting married to each other

*It is discovered that the two spouses are blood relatives. A marriage between brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts and uncles is not legal.

Reasons That Divorce Is Granted

*One or both spouse engaged in an affair outside the marriage while still married to their spouse.

*Desertion: where one spouse has physically left the marriage or alienation of affection where the marriage has ceased to have any emotional or physical connection.

*Irreconcilable differences are the most common reasons that couples file for divorce. These difference make it impossible for the couple to resolve any kind of conflict and one or both spouses believe that it would be torture to try and make it through the entire marriage till death do us part.

*Emotional, verbal and physical abuse, specifically violence is grounds for divorce. Constant verbal bullying and foul language directed at each other.

*Substance abuse, where one or both spouses are addicted to drugs, alcohol, gambling. A situation that is not getting better despite numerous attempts to get away from the addictive behaviour,

The examples above are the most common reasons that couples use to get a divorce or annulment. Most divorces are granted, especially in countries like the US, the UK and Australia. However it’s not always so easy to get an annulment. Most annulments are granted early on in the marriage. You cannot apply for an annulment if your spouse has cheated on you and you’ve had enough.

Annulments are usually only granted in extreme circumstances and it’s up to the judge. If you find out five years into the marriage that your spouse only married you to get a green card then that is grounds for annulment; your spouse would be deported and your annulment may be granted, however there has to be proof and evidence shown in court before a judge will grant an annulment.

You are usually required to return to court to follow up with property settlements, spousal support and child custody issues. So getting an annulment is not really anymore expensive or difficult than it is to get a divorce. In some states in the US there is what they call a ‘No Fault Divorce’ where if both parties agree to the divorce then it is usually granted.

Copyright © 2013 Janelle Coulton

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