Most people find the terms divorce and annulment as confusing and sometimes do not know the difference between them. Let us discuss the differences between the two. Let us start with what they both have in common, which is a lawful end to a marriage. This would include the decisions needed regarding custody of the children (if any), child support, property & debt division, and alimony, which is maintenance or support for the spouse.
Usually, a fault is blamed on one of the parties, which is the ground for the end of the marriage. The divorce will result in the dissolving of the marriage while an annulment is a legal way of determining that the marriage was never applicable in the first place.
An annulment decides that the union was not legal and is for that reason null and void. The process eradicates the marriage legally as though it never happened at all. The curious thing is if there were children conceived during the marriage, they are still regarded as legitimate, born into a lawful marriage, and a legal offspring of both parties. There is no alimony given to annulment cases.
Annulments are not awarded in cases where you had a change of heart, are being abused by your husband, are not happy with the union, feel that you made a mistake, etc. In This case people wait for court order allowing you to get a divorce. There must be a legal ground for making the marriage invalid. Annulments can also be contested the same as divorce. Most states have the same process for both proceedings, same papers, same hearings. Annulments only happen when both parties agree on it. Divorce doesn't need the agreement of both parties. Annulments are really rare occurrences in America.
Not all states have the same requirements for annulment cases but they usually include the following: one of the spouses is not able or even not willing to do the consummation of the marriage; one of the spouses kept something hidden from the other, such as having previous children, contracting a disease before the marriage, being unable to conceive, etc; one of the spouses was below the marrying age at that time; one of the spouses didn't mention being married already to another person; one of the spouses had a mental disorder during the marriage proceeding; one of the spouses was masquerading (fraud); the parties have a blood relation.
Annulment and Divorce
There are found some similarities in the annulment and divorce process i.e. the division of property in spite of which there are no proper annulment laws in most of the states.
Annulment is filed as a regular lawsuit; there is a petition for annulment and a law written order. If the other party counterclaims divorce in answering your annulment petition, your case will be dealt as divorce subsequently.
On the other hand divorce, the second way of legal termination of marriage can be both easy as well as complex depending on the state of residence and meeting of further requirements required. Sometimes divorce can be much more complicated than an annulment. Each state has its own set of laws regarding divorce. In most divorce cases, marital assets are divided and debts are settled. In case the marriage has produced children, issues like children custody, visitation rights, and spousal and child support issues must also be settled.
A divorce may be filed as either a "no-fault" or a "fault" divorce. In conservative states, a divorce is only granted on the basis of fault grounds for divorce whereas in the liberal ones both "no-fault" and "fault" are observed.
Fault for Divorce
Recently most of the states now offer the "no-fault" divorce option, in which a petition for divorce is because of neither party's blame for the termination of the marital relationship. In case the other party wishes to assign blame, the traditional fault divorce is pursued. A "fault" divorce is one when one spouse can establish sufficient grounds. The major grounds for divorce other than drugs, alcohol or gambling, incurable mental illness, and conviction of a crime are:
In short, the best way to know whether you qualify for annulment or divorce according to your particular situation is to become more familiar and aware of your state laws and read up on the state statutes so that fluid your case with enough resources. In this way, you will become aware of your rights and can reach a hustle-free conclusion.