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What is the Difference Between an Annulment and a Divorce?

Posted on December 1st, 2022

Read the Difference Between an Annulment and a Divorce

Spouses in California have a number of options if they wish to end their relationships. The traditional option is obviously a divorce, but there are other options you may not be aware of. For example, you might choose an annulment instead. Some spouses simply stop living together and remain separated without actually moving forward with a divorce. But what is the difference between an annulment and a divorce? Perhaps more importantly, what is the best option for you, and how do you move forward with the appropriate legal process?

The Basics of an Annulment

The goal of an annulment is to show that the marriage was never valid, to begin with. In other words, the legal requirements for your marriage were never satisfied, and you can therefore escape any of the rights, requirements, and obligations that would normally come with a marriage. The interesting thing is that a marriage can be “voidable” but still legal. For example, you might have married while intoxicated in Vegas. In this situation, the marriage would not be valid because you were of an “unsound mind” when you agreed to be wed. However, courts in California may assume that your marriage is legal until you argue otherwise. During this “voidable marriage,” you would still be legally required to act as a normal spouse in terms of your finances, taxes, and much more.

But why would you ever want to annul your marriage? Well, sometimes, getting an annulment is much easier than getting a divorce. As long as you can show that the marriage was never valid in the first place, you can avoid lengthy trials, expensive alimony payments, and property division. Not only does this have the potential to be less time-consuming, but it can also result in better financial outcomes. There are a number of ways in which a marriage can be invalidated, including:

  • The marriage was incestuous
  • The marriage was bigamous
  • One or both of the parties was under the age of 18 at the time of the marriage
  • Unsound mind
  • Fraud (making false promises to each other)
  • The marriage was forced
  • The physical incapacity of a spouse

So what does an annulment actually look like? One of the best-known examples involves the famous rock star Mick Jagger, who annulled his marriage to model Jerry Hall back in 1999. As it turned out, their “marriage” was not a marriage at all – but rather a “Hindu ceremony” conducted on a beach in Bali with no real legal significance. The marriage was never actually registered, so Jagger did not have to go through the trouble of divorcing his “wife.” Jerry Hall admitted that she had never seen a marriage certificate, but fortunately, the entire split was amicable with both parties willing to go their separate ways.

The Basics of a Divorce

A divorce is not the same as an annulment because it involves the ending of a marriage that is assumedly valid. Because the marriage is valid, both parties must go through a completely different legal process to end the marriage. This process is generally more complex because you are starting with an agreement that is legally enforceable. Because the initial agreement is valid, you must go through the necessary steps to divide the property and arrange spousal support. If an annulment is possible, most spouses choose that route instead of a divorce.

Child-Related Matters Stay the Same

While annulments and divorce are very different legal concepts, they can both involve virtually the same process when it comes to children. Regardless of whether you want to pursue an annulment or a divorce, you still need to figure out how you are going to handle child custody. In addition, child support payments are not affected by whether you choose an annulment or a divorce.

Where Can I Find an Experienced Divorce Attorney in Los Angeles?

Whether you are considering a divorce or an annulment, you will need assistance from a qualified, experienced divorce attorney in Los Angeles. Choose the Harris Family Law Group, and you can approach your legal process. During your initial consultation, we can help you understand more about your legal options and guide you toward the best choice based on your unique circumstances. In any case, it is always a good idea to book your consultation as soon as possible – so reach out today and get the ball rolling. Contact our family law attorneys in Los Angeles for more legal help.

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