Dissolving a marriage is never a good experience, whether it’s soon after the papers were signed or many years down the line; it’s uncomfortable, awkward, and often emotional.

But what kind of dissolution do you need for your situation?

Getting an annulment is different from getting a divorce, but most people aren’t sure why. They may think annulments are free of legal issues or that they’re only for “Vegas weddings.”

We’re here to break down the difference between an annulment and a divorce. Keep reading to learn more. 

What Is an Annulment?

While most people have some familiarity with divorces (after all, a reported 40% to 50% of married couples end up divorcing), annulments are less common. 

Annulments happen when a marriage is determined invalid, and one (or both) parties want to dissolve it. “Invalid” in this context is tricky. It can depend on the opinion of the court if it’s not a cut-and-dry case.

Marriages with no legal standing, like those between underage couples, incestuous couples, or couples in which one partner is already married, are easier to annul. 

Other situations, like when someone was tricked into a marriage or misled by someone who hid a serious situation (such as a crime or serious drug abuse), are still voidable but often require more work.

The Annulment Process

To annul your marriage, you need to fill out and file forms. These forms indicate why you want to void your marriage, which you and your spouse are, and if you have any children together. You may also fill out whether or not you want to change back to your family name, child support, and custody, and if you’d also accept a divorce.

You’ll serve papers to your former spouse, and the future annulment process varies depending on how they respond. 

What Is a Divorce? 

A divorce is more simple. Divorces can happen for any reason. However, a “no-fault” divorce is the most common kind, and it just shows irreconcilable differences (even if the divorce is amicable). 

A divorce requires more legal help than an annulment. 

For a divorce, the court recognizes that the marriage was valid. Therefore, it won’t be considered void after the legal process.

The Divorce Process

After you’ve served your spouse with divorce papers, they’re able to agree or disagree. If both partners agree, there may be no need for a court hearing.

Both parties will take and report inventory of their assets and belongings. They may need a lawyer or mediator to determine how assets will be split and any child custody, child support, or alimony. 

That’s the Difference Between an Annulment and a Divorce

If you’re looking to dissolve your marriage, make sure that you know the difference between an annulment and a divorce. Annulments are rare, so be sure that your marriage qualifies before filing for one. 

Are you unsure as to whether a divorce or annulment is for you? Do you need an expert family lawyer to help? We’re here to support you.

David C. Schanbacher is one of the best and most experienced family lawyers in York, PA. With his expertise, the divorce (or annulment) process can be painless. Contact us to make an appointment so we can discuss your case.