Should I Get an Annulment or A Divorce?
What is the difference between an annulment and a conventional divorce?
Question: Should I Get an Annulment or A Divorce?
I have been married for two years at the end of the month, and it appears that the marriage is reciprocally over. There are no assets held jointly, and we have no children; this is my first marriage, her second. What are the differences between annulments and divorces? Is there a benefit to one over the other?
Answer: It Depends on Your Situation
It is a general misunderstanding that when you have been married briefly, you can petition the court to annul—or cancel—your marriage. Whereas there are specific restricted cases in which an annulment is suitable, a lot of spouses need to petition the court for a conventional divorce. When you and your spouse have just been married briefly, do not have any children, and do not have assets or liabilities to separate, you are able to file for a no-fault divorce, or in many states, an uncontested divorce.
No-Fault and Uncontested Divorce
No-fault divorces start when either spouse files a petition with the local court. If you fulfill the no-fault divorce and state’s residency requirements, the court is going to award your request. Every state has no-fault divorce policies, meaning that neither spouse needs to allege or put blame on the other for the breakdown of the marriage.
Although no-fault divorce requirements may differ subject to where you live, generally, if you can prove that you are both separated, you suffer from irreconcilable differences, or you’re mismatched, you are going to be successful in your petition for a divorce. If there are unresolved issues concerning child custody, parenting time, child support, spousal support, or property division, the court is going to decide how to address the disputes prior to entering their final judgment.
From your question, it appears like you might qualify for a more straightforward process known as an uncontested divorce. When you both agree on all divorce-associated matters, like property and liability division, and you’re prepared to put you details of your agreement in a written contract—usually referred to as a divorce settlement agreement—in which you then submit to the judge, the court is going to likely award your request. Since you and your spouse address any divorce-associated matters, prior to you seeing the judge, the process for an uncontested divorce is usually less laborious and less costly than a conventional divorce.
Annulment is somewhat like divorce in that the spouses (or a judge) decides how to address custody, division of property, and support matters, but in the end, the court considers an annulled marriage like it never occurred. To get an annulment, one spouse must prove that the marriage wasn’t valid (was not legal) from the start. Although the reasons for an annulment may differ from state to state, the below are the most common:
- one or both spouses is of “un-sound mind” or mentally debilitated and consequently unable to consent at the time of the marriage, for instance if one or both were drunk or on drugs
- one spouse was still married to somebody else (bigamy)
- one of the spouses was a minor at the time of the marriage and was without parental consent
- the marriage was acquired by deceit, or
- the marriage is among blood relatives.
When you can show reasoning for an annulment, and a judge awards your request, the court is going to treat your marriage as if it never occurred. Generally, there’s no real benefit to annulment, unless you’re worried about the vilification that might come with a divorce. Some spouses would like to avoid divorce for spiritual reasons, but you are still going to need to meet your state’s requirements for the legal annulment of your marriage.
If you’re thinking about divorce or annulment, speak with an experienced family law attorney near you for more information.
Melissa Heinig, A. (2018, August 24). Should I get an annulment or a divorce? www.nolo.com. Retrieved September 27, 2022, from https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/question-should-i-get-annulment-or-28365.html
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