The sad reality of marriages is that sometimes they no longer work out.  When the honeymoon stage of marriage reaches its logical conclusion, the couple has a decision to make. Do they carry on with their relationship or do they end it? If they do end it how do they decide between a divorce and an annulment?  Below, we discuss the differences between divorce and annulment and when they are applicable for a couple.

What is a Divorce?

Under Florida law, a divorce is a dissolution of marriage. Firstly, the parties seeking to end the marriage must prove that the marriage was legal. Then, they must show that a marriage did exist for some time.

What is an Annulment?

An annulment is a legal ruling that deems the marriage never existed and was invalid from the beginning.

Divorce and Annulment

Both an annulment and divorce result in the ending of the marriage.  The main difference that a divorce recognizes that a marriage existed in the first place and therefore might make legal obligations to the former spouses to each other.  On the other hand, an annulment acts as if the marriage never existed and therefore any legal obligations between the former spouses might no longer exist.

How Does a Person Get a Divorce?

Since Florida is a no-fault state, any spouse may file for divorce and does not need a reason other than the marriage is irretrievably broken.  This allows couples to end the marriage regardless if there was abuse, infidelity, desertion, etc.

How does a Person Get an Annulment?

Florida law limits the circumstances in which a person may seek an annulment. The court typically grants annulments in cases where something occurred to make the marriage illegal to begin with.  Examples, where annulment may be granted, are in cases of bigamy, incest, where one or both spouses were not of the age of consent and did not receive parental consent on their behalf, or if the marriage was forced upon one of the spouses through some sort of duress.

What Happens After a Marriage is Over?

Part of the process of ending any marriage is dividing up the marital assets.  Depending on how much assets are involved, this can be a contentious process.  In addition to marital assets, the court will decide as to whether either spouse will receive alimony and/or child support, custody, and visitation rights of the children.

Divorce or Annulment, Which is Best For Me?

Getting a divorce or an annulment is a serious matter.  Although there are such things as quick divorces, without legal counsel, it is impossible to know if you are truly legally protected.  It is always wise to consult a lawyer who specializes in family law before making any decision to end your marriage.  Feel free to contact the lawyers at Thompson Law for a consultation tailored to your specific situation.