Annulment vs Divorce: Which is Right for Me?
The decision to end a marriage is never an easy one. Going through the process can be overwhelming, stressful, and confusing for all parties involved.
Complicating matters even further, there is more than one option for how to actually dissolve a marriage. The most common in Texas are annulment and divorce. To help you understand the differences, here’s a more in-depth look at each of them.
By definition, a divorce is a judicial decree that legally dissolves a marriage. Once a divorce has been finalized, the previously married people are no longer legally bound to each other, and they are free to remarry. During divorce proceedings, the court can deal with issues including child custody, child support,spousal support, alimony, and the division of property.
Although laws vary slightly from state to state, in most cases two types of divorce can be filed: no-fault divorce and fault-based divorce. In Texas, these are called uncontested and contested divorce. However, Texas is actually a no-fault divorce state. That means in most — but certainly not all — cases, the parties cite the reason for the divorce simply as “insupportability.”
In states that allow contested divorces to be filed, valid reasons include adultery, domestic violence, and substance abuse. The most common reasons why this type of divorce is sought are to forgo the Texas-mandated 60-day waiting period or to influence the court’s decisions when child custody or support, spousal support, or a division of assets is relevant.
An annulment of marriage is similar to a divorce, but there are some distinct differences. When an annulment is granted, the marriage is null and void; it is treated as if it never occurred at all. Essentially, the court deems that the marriage was never legitimate and is therefore invalid altogether. Valid reasons for an annulment to be granted include:
- Misrepresentation or fraud: One of the spouses has been dishonest about something significant, such as having already been married previously.
- Major misunderstanding: A common reason for citing misunderstanding in an annulment petition is that one person wants to have children, while the other does not.
- Concealment: One of the married parties has hidden something significant, such as a substance abuse problem, a large amount of debt, or prior or ongoing criminal activity.
- Lack of consent: It is determined that either party was coerced into getting married, or someone in the marriage is deemed to lack the mental capacity to have given consent. This can include one or both parties being under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the marriage.
The end results in divorce and annulment cases are the same. Once a marriage has been annulled, the parties are no longer legally bound, and they can remarry if they please. Just as in divorce cases, annulment proceedings can resolve matters regarding child support and custody.
Why Choose Annulment Over Divorce?
The most common reason that people opt for annulment is financial. Because annulment deems that a legitimate marriage never existed in the first place, there is no asset division, spousal support, or alimony. All debts and property remain with the person they originally belonged to prior to the marriage.
Even in cases when both parties agree to end the marriage, divorce and annulment proceedings are often emotionally charged and complex, and they can stretch on for considerable lengths of time.
Hiring an attorney who’s both experienced in divorce and annulment proceedings and is compassionate is essential. Since 2001, Jill Setzer and John Setzer of Setzer Law Firm, PLLC, have been expertly guiding people through the processes of divorce and annulment. While we treat divorce and annulment proceedings with sensitivity, we’re also assertive and take a clear-cut, no-nonsense approach to help resolve the case as quickly as possible. Give us a call today at (817) 230-4248, orcontact us online to schedule your consultation.