Annulments vs. Divorce
Key Points
  • An annulment, like a divorce, ends a marriage but also makes it as thought the marriage actually never took place.
  • Choosing to annul a marriage is not always an option. Certain grounds must be met for courts to grant it.
  • Similar residency requirements, as with a divorce, exist to file for an annulment.
  • A civil/legal annulment is different from a religious annulment.

Like a divorce, an annulment is a court procedure that dissolves a marriage. But, unlike a divorce, an annulment treats the marriage as though it never happened. For some people, divorce carries a stigma, so they prefer to have their marriage annulled. Others choose annulment because it may be easier to remarry in the church if they go through a civil annulment rather than a divorce.

In most states, it's not enough to simply allege grounds for annulment; the appellant must prove them to the satisfaction of the court as well. Thus, the standard is higher than in a no-fault divorce, where nothing must be proved. Proving often takes some time and can affect the statute of limitations. For example, if a person asserts bigamy, he or she must usually provide a copy of the marriage certificate from the previous marriage, prove that the other spouse is still alive, and prove that they were never divorced. Assembling this documentation may take months.

Similar to a divorce, in an annulment, the appellant must also meet the residency requirements of the state, as well as pay filing fees.

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