Annulment vs. Divorce

Annulment vs. Divorce

If you are considering ending your marriage, you may wonder what the difference is between annulment and divorce. This is a common question, as the two terms are often used interchangeably. Annulment and divorce both involve the legal termination of a marriage. However, there are some critical differences between the two.

Basics of Divorce

A divorce is a dissolution of a valid and legal marriage. If you are considering a divorce in Florida, you should know a few things. First, Florida is a no-fault state, meaning you do not have to prove that your spouse did something wrong to get a divorce. All you need to show is that the marriage is irretrievably broken.

Even though Florida is a no-fault state, fault can still be considered when dividing assets and debts. Florida is an equitable distribution state, meaning the court will divide property and debts fairly, considering several factors of the marriage. So if one spouse was at fault for the breakup of the marriage (i.e., infidelity), that spouse might not get as favorable an outcome in the divorce.

Lastly, Florida has a "residency requirement" for divorce. This means that one of the spouses must have lived in Florida for at least six months before the divorce can be filed.

What is an Annulment?

On the other hand, an annulment is a legal procedure that cancels a marriage between two people. Annulments are granted when a court finds that there was something legally wrong with the marriage from the beginning. Once a court grants an annulment, the marriage is treated as if it never happened in the first place.

Reasons for an Annulment

There are several reasons why a couple may seek to end their marriage. Because Florida is a no-fault state regarding divorce, a couple may divorce for any reason. However, since annulments seek to disprove that a marriage was legal, it must meet one of the following criteria:

  • Underage Spouse - One or both spouses were under the legal age, and a parent's consent was not present.
  • Marriage was Forced - A spouse was forced into the marriage through coercion or manipulation.
  • Based on Fraud - A marriage was obtained solely with the intent to deceive through fraud.
  • Deception - Similarly to above, if a spouse "A" conceals information from spouse "B," which had the information been known, spouse "B" would not have agreed to the marriage. This includes family history, criminal history, etc.
  • Undisclosed Impotence - A spouse knowingly was impotent yet did not make it known to the other.
  • Lack of Mental Capacity - If either spouse has a mental incapacity that renders them unable to understand the nature and consequences of marriage.
  • Bigamy - One or both spouses were already married to someone else at the time of their marriage.

Property Division After an Annulment?

Because an annulment is a legal declaration that your marriage never existed, there is no division of property. Therefore, any property acquired prior to the marriage returns to its respective owners and property obtained during the marriage may be split at the discretion of the spouses.

Child Legitimacy Following an Annulment?

Under Florida law, all voidable marriages are valid until annulled; therefore, a child's legitimacy would remain intact in a voidable marriage. However, once the marriage is void, a child or children would not be considered legitimate since the marriage is deemed to have never existed.

Thinking About Divorce in Jacksonville, FL?

If you are considering a divorce or annulment, you may wonder how Owenby Law, P.A. can help. We can provide extensive legal support and advice throughout the process, helping to make it as smooth and stress-free as possible. We understand that this is a difficult time for you, and we will do everything we can to help you through it.

If you are debating whether or not you want a divorce, call us today at (904) 770-3141 or schedule a free consultation online by filling out our form.

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