What is the Difference Between Annulment and Divorce?

DivorceA divorce and an annulment have the same result: they both end a marriage. But there is a difference between the two. With a divorce, you are still considered to have been previously married. With an annulment, it?s like the marriage never existed. Some people end up in awkward situations where all they want is to erase the fact that the marriage ever happened. They may not like the stigma that is attached to divorce, or some people may prefer an annulment because of religious reasons.

Grounds for an Annulment

Annulments are a relief for someone who was placed in a situation where they never should have been married. A civil annulment treats the marriage as if it never existed, so the person needs to have a really good reason to get one. One of the following criteria must be met to obtain an annulment.

  • Fraud: This happens when one of the spouses has not told the truth about something. Certain things may have been misrepresented like the ability to have children, marrying to become a U.S. citizen, or not being of legal age to get married.
  • Concealment: If a major issue was hidden from the other spouse such as a conviction of a felony, impotence, or a sexually transmitted disease that was not revealed.
  • Impotency or Incest: If one of the spouses cannot be cured of impotence and the other spouse was not made aware, it can be grounds for an annulment. If the spouses are too close in family relation, it?s grounds for annulment. This can include half siblings, whole siblings, first cousins, etc.
  • Lack of Consent: If one or both parties do not have the mental capacity to voluntarily consent to marriage then the marriage can be annulled. If one party was threatened or forced into the marriage, it can be annulled. If they are intoxicated at the time of the marriage, it can be annulled.

Grounds for a Fault Divorce

Even though Illinois has always had ?fault? grounds for divorce, there is also ?no-fault? grounds called ?irreconcilable differences.? This means that either spouse can file for divorce regardless of who is at fault. Fault grounds for divorce include:

  • Being infected with a sexually transmitted disease
  • Felony conviction
  • Impotence
  • Bigamy
  • Adultery
  • Abandonment for a year or longer
  • Alcohol abuse or drug use for 2 years
  • Attempted murder of the other spouse
  • Mental or physical cruelty

Grounds for a No-Fault Divorce

No-fault divorce is where the spouse seeking the divorce doesn?t have to prove that the other spouse did something wrong. All states allow no-fault divorces. All you have to do is simply state the reason for the divorce to be recognized by your state.

No-fault grounds are usually pretty simple, and they include:

  • Spouses that have lived separately for 2 years
  • Irreconcilable differences
  • Failed reconciliation efforts

State law and your unique situation will help determine whether a divorce or an annulment is right for you. Consulting with an experienced attorney is the best way to find out what will be best for you.

CONTACT the Law Offices of Barbara Sherer for a?consultation.

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