The end of a marriage is always sad. Emotions run high, with sound reasoning and logic often taking a backseat to anger and bitterness. But if you are going through this situation, it is important to carefully consider all of your options. While filing for divorce is usually the obvious choice, you may have a better outcome if you qualify for an annulment of the marriage.
The essential difference between an annulment and a divorce is quite simple: a divorce is the legal termination of a marriage, while an annulment is a legal declaration that your marriage is null and void. This may seem like a difference in name only, but there are situations where an annulment is preferable to a divorce. The experienced divorce attorneys at Wallin & Klarich can help you understand when an annulment can be pursued, what the process entails, and why it may benefit you.
The Difference Between a Divorce and an Annulment
An annulment is a legal declaration that nullifies a marriage. In effect, it means that the marriage never existed.1 Some marriages qualify for an annulment simply because those marriages are never legal to begin with. This is the case with marriages where the two parties are close blood relatives or situations of bigamy.2
There are other situations that may also qualify for an annulment. These include:
- If a party to a marriage was under the legal age to marry (which in most states is 18 years old); or
- If either party in a marriage is in a state rendering them unable to understand the nature of marriage.
Fraud and coercion through use of force is also a ground for an annulment. If one party entered into the marriage as a result of a threat of violence, an annulment may be granted.
Withholding information about one’s ability to have children constitutes fraud, and can also be used as a legally accepted reason for seeking an annulment.3
Quite possibly the best known reason for seeking an annulment is physical incapacity, where one party is incapable of “consummating” the relationship. Less well known is that in these circumstances, the incapacity must be ongoing and appear to be incurable.4
The Potential Benefits of an Annulment
There are potential benefits to filing for an annulment. A divorce case can become a long, protracted legal battle often requiring a good deal of money, while annulments, if granted, do not involve the same lengthy process.
Similarly, because an annulment essentially nullifies a marriage, it returns both parties to their financial status prior to the marriage date. This means that any money or assets you have going into the marriage are what you should be left with at the time that it is annulled.
Why You Should Consult With an Experienced Attorney
The grounds for an annulment are more specific than the grounds for a divorce. This often requires proving in a court of law, often with the use of evidence, any of the accepted reasons for seeking an annulment.
There is also a statute of limitations restricting the timeframe in which an annulment can be sought. In cases of fraud, force, and physical incapacity, an annulment must be filed within 4 years of the date of the marriage.5
Speak to Family Law Attorney at Wallin & Klarich Today
If you are seeking a divorce or annulment in San Bernardino, you should consult with one of our experienced family law attorneys. At Wallin & Klarich, our skilled attorneys have been fighting for over 30 years to help our clients achieve the best possible outcomes in their cases.
With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Orange County, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, an experienced Wallin & Klarich attorney can help you no matter your location.
Call us at (888) 749-7428 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.