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Posted by: Maricopa Lawyers on Feb 24, 2016

While most people enter into a marriage with the best of intentions, the fact of the matter is that sometimes, things don’t work out.  Some very serious legal issues can arise when a marriage ends, and the proper way to handle them will depend on your circumstances.  In some cases, an annulment may be more appropriate than a divorce, which is legally called a dissolution of marriage.  Here’s a look at the differences between the two.  

When Annulment is Appropriate.  

Like a divorce, an annulment is a civil court procedure that ends a marriage, but the difference is that an annulment treats the marriage as if it never existed.  Annulment is the best approach under the following circumstances:  

  • One of the parties was married to someone else (bigamy).
  • The parties are too closely related by blood.
  • One of the parties was under the age of consent.  
  • One or both of the parties lacked the physical or mental capacity to get married, which includes being intoxicated.  
  • The parties failed to obtain a marriage license.
  • One of the parties perpetrated a fraud to get the other party to consent to the marriage.
  • One party used force (legally known as “duress”) to get the other party to agree to marriage.
  • The parties have not had sexual relations or one party refused to have intercourse.
  • One of the parties misrepresented his or her religion.

How a Dissolution of Marriage Differs According to Family Law.  

A typical divorce, or dissolution of marriage, treats marriage like a legal contract that requires legal action in order to break it.  A divorce is complete when the court issues a divorce decree.   A judgment of dissolution of marriage recognizes the validity of the marriage and terminates the parties’ marital status. They are then free to remarry as of the date provided in the judgment.  This differs from annulment in that an annulment voids the marriage, as if it had never legally existed.  

Especially if you haven’t been married very long, there is little difference between annulment and divorce, and if you don’t have assets to split or children, you most likely qualify for a “summary” divorce, which is simpler than an annulment.  

If you’re considering an annulment, speak to an experienced family attorney who can help you determine which option is best for you and help you protect your rights.