What Is the Difference Between Divorce and Annulment?

While many may have heard of an “annulment,” few may actually understand what it is and how it differs from divorce. It is important, especially if you are contemplating ending a marriage, to know your legal options and the procedures that accompany them. While annulment and divorce both essentially bring an end to a marriage, there are vastly different implications and requirements of each.

Differences Between Divorce and Annulment

If you are looking to dissolve a marriage, you may have two options: divorce and, in rare situations, annulment. An annulment does more than just end a marriage, it renders it completely void. For legal purposes, it is as if the marriage never even existed. An annulment will only be granted under a limited number of circumstances, such as when a marriage was:

  • Incestuous
  • Bigamous
  • The result of use of force, coercion, or fraud
  • Between two people, one or both of whom were below the legal age to marry
  • Between two people, one or both of whom were already in a legal marriage
  • Between two people, one or both of whom were under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the marriage

The result of a divorce is that a legal marriage has come to an end. It is not rendered invalid like it is with annulment. The validity of the marriage and records of the marriage’s existence remain. The marriage itself, however, is dissolved. One spouse must petition the court for divorce through filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the circuit court in the county that they live in. The other spouse, the respondent, must receive notice of the filing and is given an opportunity to file an answer should he or she disagree with anything asserted in the petition. The divorce may be contested or uncontested. If the spouses disagree about any issue incident to the divorce, such as the grounds for divorce, spousal support, or division of property, then the divorce will be considered contested.

The procedure for divorce is detailed in Florida law. Information pertaining to annulment proceedings is more limited. This is due, in part, to the fact that there are more issues to address in divorce than in annulment, more often than not. With an annulment, the two people involved are not likely to have been married very long. This means that child custody decisions are unlikely to be needed. It is also unlikely that there will be a need to address much in the way of division of the marital property. Should these types of issues arise, however, the court would likely handle them in a way similar, if not the same, to that which occurs in divorce.

Florida Family Law Attorneys

When it comes to ending a marriage, there will be important and complex legal matters to address. This is true in all sorts of different situations. The trusted divorce attorneys at Orlando Family Team are here to help you through the dissolution of marriage process and will advocate on your behalf every step of the way. Contact us today.