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Annulment vs. Divorce: 3 Noteworthy Differences

by | Oct 9, 2019 | Divorce |

We’ve all heard of the terms ‘annulment’ and ‘divorce’, but what are the actual differences between the two concepts? As it happens, when comparing annulment vs divorce, there are actually many differentiators between the two. And, it’s important to know what those differences are so that you can speedily handle the process and take care of your marriage the way that makes sense.

1. Reasoning Behind the Process

The reasoning behind the process is the core difference between an annulment vs divorce. It’s important to look at the reason you’re filing for either one of these decrees before you initiate the process, otherwise, it could lead to a lot of wasted time and money. An annulment is a statement that declares your marriage null and void as if it had never happened. In contrast, a divorce legally dissolves a marriage but still recognizes that it has taken place.

2. Annulment vs. Divorce: Grounds for Filing

While the grounds for filing for an annulment vary from state to state, they are consistently different from the grounds for divorce.


The most common reasons that annulments are permitted include:

  • Incest
  • Bigamy
  • Marriage because of force or fraud
  • Mental incapacity to make the decision to get married
  • Underage marriage
  • One partner was already married

Some states also allow for an annulment based on physical or emotional abuse.


annulment vs divorce
The grounds for filing for a divorce are much broader. In fact, parties can choose to either file for a fault-based divorce or for a no-fault divorce. Both options have different qualifications and ramifications for how the proceedings will go. In a fault-based divorce, typically couples will have to prove either abandonment, adultery, or some form of abuse in order to qualify.

In contrast, in a no-fault divorce, neither spouse takes responsibility for the breakup. Because there is no fault involved in the case, these types of divorces often have longer periods of separation required before a divorce will be granted. Especially if lawsuit funding is required.

3. Religion

divorce and religion
Many people feel some pressure to remain in a marriage for social or religious purposes. Annulments are recognized both legally and by religious institutions and can be an alternative to divorce for people with this concern.

Religious annulments are, however, different from legal annulments. With a civil annulment, one of the previously mentioned grounds for filing must be met. In a religious annulment, however, the marriage is brought before a diocese instead of a court. The religious leaders then decide whether the bond can be broken because of a lack of something when it was first created. Often, obtaining an annulled marriage means that the couple is able to remarry within that religious organization.

Choose What’s Right for You

Whether you choose to go with an annulment vs divorce, look at the core reason for the dissolution of the marriage and base your decisions off of that. This can help you avoid lengthy legal proceedings and to reach an arrangement more quickly.

Terenzini & Lucero, LLC.

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