How to Understand the Difference Between Annulment and Divorce

Written by nafeesah abdullah
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When you're in the process of ending a marriage, you should know that there is a difference between annulment and divorce. A lawyer specialising in marriage and family can explain the difference.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy


    Ending a marriage

  1. 1

    Ending a marriage requires a couple to legally file its intent to dissolve the marriage.

  2. 2

    Obtaining a divorce requires couples to be legally separated under their state law until such time has passed. Legal separation is the first step in a divorce. Divorce involves separation of assets and deciding on the care of children if the couple has any.

  3. 3

    Annulling a marriage requires that the couple file the same type of paperwork as a divorce. However, with an annulment, the couple has to file within a certain amount of time from when the marriage certificate was issued. This process removes the marriage from the record without it going through a lengthy court proceeding.

  4. 4

    Tend to business: Couples who annul their marriage have to go through a different process than what occurs in a regular divorce proceeding.

  5. 5

    Get representation: Having a lawyer help you understand the difference between a divorce and annulment makes it easier for couples to get the process started and completed. Annulments and divorces require different intent filings. Annulments take no more than a few weeks to a month to complete whereas a divorce can take months, even years, to settle and finalise.

Tips and warnings

  • The only time you should consider annulment is when you've made a mistake marrying and declare so within 90 days of the marriage or if you are intending to remarry under Catholic church laws.
  • Divorce should only be an option once all other options have been exhausted
  • Alimony is not awarded in an annulment. Divorces don't always end up with the granting of aliimony or other financial maintenance. Some couples will have a prenuptual agreement laying out the terms in the event of a divorce.

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