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Frequently Asked Questions About Annulment

Annulment is available as an alternative to divorce in some cases, but it is not particularly common because there are some stringent requirements for a person to be eligible for it.

Here are a few of the most common questions people preparing for a divorce tend to have about the issue of annulment.

Q: What is the difference between an annulment and a divorce?

A divorce legally ends a marriage, while an annulment voids it altogether. Legally, an annulment makes it as though your marriage never actually existed. Annulments are much more difficult to obtain due to the requirements you must meet, but for some people, an annulment may help them to avoid any kind of stigma (often religious) associated with divorce.

Q: What are the differences between “void” and “voidable” marriages?

The law only allows for annulments when the marriage qualifies as “void” or “voidable.” A void marriage results in automatic qualification based on an illegal action, while a “voidable” marriage means there are legal reasons for an annulment, but one of the spouses must request that annulment.

Q: What are some examples of scenarios in which an annulment may apply?

A “voidable” marriage could be a marriage in which the spouse hadn’t yet reached legal marrying age, if either spouse did not have the mental capacity to consent to the marriage, if one of the spouses was permanently impotent at the time of the marriage (and withheld that information from their spouse), if the marriage was based on fraud or if one of the spouses was under duress (think of your classic “shotgun wedding”).

A “void” marriage was never valid to begin with. Examples include marriages involving bigamy or incest.

Q: Is there a statute of limitations for an annulment?

Most annulments occur fairly soon in a marriage. But in general, with annulments you need to worry less about timing and more about eligibility and circumstances.

For more information about annulments as a divorce alternative, contact an experienced divorce attorney at Jakubowski, Robertson, Maffei, Goldsmith & Tartaglia, LLP.

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