What is the difference between an annulment and a divorce?
If you get your marriage annulled, it basically means that (legally) the marriage “never happened.“ When filling out forms, for example, if the forms ask if you were married before, you can say “no.” If you get a divorce, this recognizes that the marriage was a legal marriage and it was dissolved (or ended) by a divorce.
You can file for an annulment if you can prove one of the following
1. Either spouse was incapable to consent to the marriage when the ceremony was performed, either because of mental disability or incapacity, or because of the influence of drugs, alcohol, or other similar substances; or
2. Either spouse entered into the marriage because s/he relied on a false act or representation of the other spouse, and the fraudulent act or representation goes to the essence (core) of the marriage (for example, if your partner lied and said she was straight but later you find out that he knew she was gay when you got married); or
3. The husband or wife, or both, married because of pressure (force/threats) by the spouse or by some other person; or
4. The husband or wife, or both, got married as a prank or a dare.
Note: To file under the grounds for annulment listed in numbers 1 – 4 above, only the aggrieved (wounded) spouse can file no later than 90 days after you become aware of the described condition (i.e., incapacity, fraud, threats, or joke or dare).
5. Either spouse was materially unable to consummate the marriage (have sexual intercourse) and the other spouse did not know of the lack of physical capacity at the time the marriage ceremony was performed. Note: Either spouse can arrange for an annulment no later than 1 year after you become aware of the lack of ability.
6. Either party was under 18 at the time of the marriage and did not have the permission of his/her parents or guardian or judicial approval. Note: Only the spouse who was a minor (or his/her parent or guardian)can file for an annulment no later than 1 year after the date of the marriage.
7. The marriage is prohibited by law and therefore void – here are some examples of void marriages:
- if your spouse is already legally married to someone else (bigamy);
- marriage to your sibling (including half-sibling), uncle, aunt, niece, nephew, first cousin or to someone of the same sex;
- if either spouse was divorced but the clerk did not examine the certified decree of divorce or otherwise verify the divorce before if either spouse is on probation or parole and did not file with the marriage-license clerk a written consent to the marriage from the relevant person in the court or institution that gave the probation or parole.
Note: Either spouse can file to annul based on the grounds mentioned in number 7, above, at any time before the death of either spouse. (It can even be filed after the death of a party within certain time limits).
Note: Property can still be divided up, just like in a divorce. Also, children born in the marriage are still considered to be “legitimate.”