Getting An Annulment Instead Of A Divorce
For some people, getting a divorce come be extremely difficult because of religious and social stigma within their communities. Instead of a divorce, a person in this situation may decide to get the marriage annulled, because an annulment would represent a fresh start, without the same religious or social implications as a divorce. However, annulments are more difficult to get than divorces, and the requirements to get an annulment are more difficult to meet.
When a marriage is annulled, it means that the court declares the marriage to be void from its inception. This means that after annulment, it is as if the marriage never existed. In this way, the annulment is different from a divorce. A divorce seeks to end a marriage, and therefore first recognizes a marriage existed.
Various religions also recognize annulments. Religious annulments should not be confused with legal annulments. In order to have a true annulment of a marriage in Florida, even after a person has received a religious annulment, he or she has to seek a legal annulment in order for the marriage to be legally void.
One common basis for an annulment is fraud in procuring the marriage. This usually refers to situations in which someone committed a fraudulent act to induce the other person to marry them. Other grounds for annulment include: one person in the marriage lacking the legal capacity to consent to the marriage; bigamy; and, one or both spouses entered into the marriage as a joke, or as result of force.
If a marriage is what the law considers “voidable,” it can be annulled or it can be held valid despite the existence of grounds for annulment. For example, in a marriage based on fraud, the person who was tricked into entering the marriage can negate the grounds for an annulment by ratifying the marriage after discovering the fraud. Ratifying the marriage essentially means legitimizing it. Once a marriage has been legitimized, it cannot be annulled even though there were previous grounds for an annulment. There are other marriages that cannot be ratified, and these are always void. These include bigamous marriages, where one person is already married to another person when he gets into the marriage to be annulled.
An annulment returns the spouses to the position they were in before they got married. The court that grants the annulment does not divide the marital property as it would divide marital property in a divorce. This is because technically there is no marital property. While the property division without the benefit of Florida law on marital property can get complicated, the parties in an annulment can negotiate and agree amongst themselves on how to best divide any jointly owned property.
Contact Us for Legal Assistance
If you are concerned about getting a divorce, and believe that you may have grounds for an annulment instead, you need to consult with an experienced family law attorney. Annulments are more complicated than divorces, and having the proper legal advice on what action to take can make a big difference. To schedule a consultation, contact our experienced Boca Raton, Florida divorce attorneys, at the Law Offices of Schwartz l White.