The difference between divorce and annulment can be confusing, as many people believe they are different words for the same legal process. Others may know there is a difference between the two, but they may not be sure what that difference is. 

In a way, both divorce and annulment are similar, as they are the act of leaving or abandoning a marriage. 

But there are major differences between these processes. Today, we will help you differentiate annulment from a divorce. 

What Is The Difference Between Divorce And Annulment?

The most notable difference between a divorce and an annulment is that a divorce terminates a legally valid marriage. An annulment, on the other hand, declares a marriage to be legally invalid. However, the differences between the two are much more than just that. 

People who get divorced are still considered to have been married previously. An annulment, however, treats the marriage as if it never existed. The main difference here being that the relationship was never legal or legitimate to begin with.

The fault grounds for a divorce and an annulment are not too different either. In fact, many grounds of divorce are also the same as the grounds for an annulment. 

In a divorce, you can choose to have a no-fault divorce wherein neither party has to prove a fault. Another term for a no-fault divorce is “irreconcilable differences divorce.”

Adultery, imprisonment, and abandonment are some of the most common reasons for fault-based divorces. However, fault grounds for a divorce in the U.S. differ from state to state.

Legal Grounds For Getting an Annulment

Similar to a divorce, the legal grounds for getting an annulment differ by state. Some of the common ground for annulment include but are not limited to:

  • Bigamy: when one spouse is already married to another person at the time of the marriage.
  • Incest-after marriage:  when the married couple discovers that they are close relatives to each other.
  • Marriage under duress, which is also referred to as a “shotgun wedding.”
  • Minority: when one or both spouses are minors.
  • Impotence: when one of the spouses was impotent and the other spouse did not know prior to the marriage.

An Annulment When Children Are Involved

What if the married couple had children together? In a divorce, we already know about child support, custody, and the visitation processes. 

But in an annulment, are there child support and child custody? In the case of an annulment involving children, the courts would still have to go through the child custody, visitation, and support processes.

Following a divorce, spouses are usually entitled to a specified number of years of spousal support, alimony, or a share of each other’s earnings or property acquired during the marriage. 

In contrast, with an annulment, the parties are not deemed genuine spouses and are therefore not entitled to these same rights. Instead of that, they will revert to their pre-marriage financial situation.

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