Annulment: The Difference Between Annulment and Divorce

What Is An Annulment?

An annulment is a legal proceeding that typically combines religious tradition and secular law. Annulments are different from divorces because they are not seen as a formal separation. A divorce is defined as the dissolution of the marital bond. Divorces acknowledge that the marriage had a beginning and end.  Instead, an annulment essentially voids the marriage entirely, as if the two individuals had never been married at all.

There are specific grounds for which a couple can have a marriage annulled.


Grounds For An Annulement

  • Fraud in relation to one spouse hiding past information about themself from the other, such as a drug addiction or criminal past
  • The realization and determination that one or both spouses couldn’t consent to the marriage
  • The inability or refusal of one spouse to consummate the marriage 
  • The realization that the couple is in a incestuous relationship

 If a couple meets one or more of these criteria they are able to qualify for an annulment. In this case there is no equivalent to a divorce settlement or the legal or financial implications divorce typically carries. Instead, in an annulment both parties are returned to their previous financial standing by the court. This includes debt. Any joint “marital” property or debt that the couple as racked up or paid off during their marriage is typically split evening between both parties. In some cases, one may choose to pay all the debt and sue the other for half.