In many instances, the terms divorce and annulment are used synonymously. While the actions associated with these words share some similarities, an annulment holds certain notable differences.
Divorce Versus Annulment
Both terms reference actions designed to terminate established marriages. However, unlike divorces, an official annulment effectively erases a marriage from record.
When married individuals get divorced, said parties are still recognized to have been previously married. When persons are granted an annulment, their marriage is eliminated from public document. In more direct terms, the law views said union truly as never having existed.
Types Of Annulments
There are two primary categories of annulments, civil and religious.
Civil annulments are typically granted on the basis of significant legal grounds. The individual or couple appealing for an annulment must demonstrate that they should not be married and provide solid evidence suggesting the reasons the joining should technically be expunged from official record.
In an appreciable number of cases, those requesting annulment must clearly show one or more acceptable grounds including:
The Lack Of Consent
This occurs when one spouse is coerced or forced into getting married to the other partner.
Annulment might be awarded to one spouse if said subject proves that the other hid pertinent information from them. For example, hiding a major criminal record or a past marriage and children from their current spouse could be considered concealment.
If one spouse perpetrates a lie or misrepresents themselves, courts may satisfy an appealing party’s request for an annulment. Cases in point include spouses lying about their ages or having entered their current union while still technically being married to another individual.
Incurable impotency is a grounds for annulment. That said, the appealing entity had to have not known this fact prior to becoming wedded.
If the parties determine they share some type of appreciable familial relationship, courts are likely to satisfy annulment requests.
Religious institutions like the Catholic Church also grant annulments. However, instead of a legal body like a court, the decision to allow said action is rendered by a tribunal.
This entity will determine oi the marriage lacked important elements to begin with and should therefore be terminated from a spiritual standpoint.
Those appealing to the Church for annulment must also demonstrate satisfactory grounds. However, said issues can differ from those debated by courts and, include emotional instability, immaturity, or dishonest behavior. If the Church grants the annulment, said parties are free to remarry in the Catholic faith.
Similarities To Divorce
In many cases, grounds for annulment appear early on in the marriage in question. Therefore, specific legal and financial issues typically requiring resolution might not enter into play.
However, annulments of longer lasting unions do share certain commonalities with divorce. The major likeness is the fact that the parties in question will still likely be required to satisfy various legal and financial concerns such as:
Civil law mandates that divorcing couples divide their marital assets. These holdings are materials each party earned during their married life.
Specific mandates are usually dictated by state law. Some states require marital property to be split evenly where both parties receive 50 percent of said assets.
However, an appreciable percentage of states follow the equitable distribution principle. This means assets are differentiated as fairly as possible in accordance with which spouse’s efforts most led to their accumulation.
Spousal maintenance, also referred to as alimony is a remittance one spouse might be required to pay the other. Occasionally, one partner might earn appreciably more than the other. This income gap could result in financial difficulties for the lesser earning party. Alimony is designed to prevent such economic hardship.
Though annulled marriages are no longer recognized, any children produced prior to the action being granted are still the responsibility of the spouses who produced said offspring.
Therefore, said entities will be encouraged to create parenting plans dictating which parent will have physical custody, visitation schedules for other parent, travel arrangements to and from each parent’s residence, in addition to information regarding who will make important decisions on the child’s behalf and finance needed materials and protections.
Should the annulling parties be unable to reach these conclusions amicably, a court of law might be forced to step in and render such decisions on their behalf.
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