The Differences Between Divorce and Annulment
While most people are familiar with the concept of divorce, few are aware of how it differs from an annulment. This is an important distinction, as seeking an annulment is often much easier than obtaining a divorce, so if you were recently married and have questions about whether you qualify for an annulment, it is important to contact an experienced Fort Lauderdale annulment attorney who can explain your legal options.
What is an Annulment?
When a couple is legally married and later decides to dissolve that marriage, they must seek a divorce. An annulment, on the other hand, is granted when a marriage was never actually legally entered into, but is instead considered to be void. Void marriages in Florida include unions that involve incest, underage partners, mental incapacitation, and bigamy. If two people marry under any one of these circumstances, the relationship is automatically considered legally invalid. This is true even if one or both parties still wish to remain married. However, even in these cases, it’s usually a good idea to obtain an annulment to ensure that any record of the marriage is removed.
The other type of marriage that qualifies for annulment is a voidable union, which exists when at least one of the parties:
- Was temporarily mentally incapacitated from the consumption of drugs or alcohol at the time of the wedding;
- Was the victim of fraud or misrepresentation, such as entering into the marriage without ever intending to live together;
- Agreed to the marriage under duress;
- Was underage and didn’t have the consent of a guardian;
- Is impotent; or
- Entered into the marriage as a joke.
Unlike void marriages, voidable unions do not automatically qualify for annulment. In fact, it is even possible for voidable marriages to become ratified if the parties sexually consummated the relationship after the voidable act was revealed. In these cases, the parties will need to obtain an official divorce in order to legally terminate their marriage.
Annulments vs Divorce
Aside from being available to far fewer people, annulments also differ from divorces in more practical ways. For instance, those who annul their marriages are only rarely granted permanent alimony, although in some cases, a judge may be willing to order temporary payments. Parties to an annulment are also required to divide their property themselves and will not have their assets divided legally. Similarly, when a marriage is declared void, or annulled by a court, the parties will not be able to lay claim to a portion of each other’s benefits, as they would if they had been legally married and then obtained a divorce.
Contact an Experienced Annulment Attorney for Legal Advice
If you were recently married, but believe that your union was unlawful, please call 954-945-7591 or send us an online message to set up a free consultation with dedicated Fort Lauderdale attorney Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. A member of our legal team is standing by to address your questions and concerns, so please don’t hesitate to call or contact us online today.