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Difference Between an Annulment and Divorce


Many people hear the word annulment and think it only has to do with a specific religious practice. However, a couple can actually receive a civil annulment instead of a divorce in certain circumstances. If you are a couple in the state of Florida and thinking of getting a divorce, you may qualify for an annulment. Understanding the difference can help you make the best decision in your particular circumstance.

Definitions of Annulment and Divorce

The main difference between an annulment and a divorce in the state of Florida, is that an annulment recognizes that there never was a valid marriage to begin with, and a divorce legally ends what is considered to be a valid marriage by the state. These important distinctions carry with them very different outcomes in a court of law, and visiting with an experienced family law attorney can help you determine if you qualify for an annulment versus a divorce in your specific situation.

Grounds for Annulment and Divorce

In order to make a determination if you want to seek an annulment or a divorce, you must meet certain legal requirements. The following are the legal grounds in the state of Florida for both annulment and divorce.

  • Grounds for Annulment. Not all marriages are allowed by law. If you are found to be a close relative of someone and get married, that marriage was technically never allowed by law and you will be granted a divorce by the state. Additionally, if one party to the marriage was unable to consent due to mental incapacity, due to the influence of alcohol or drugs, due to one person being a minor and lacking parental consent, or one person using fraudulent acts or misrepresentations to coerce the consent of the other, the marriage will be considered invalid from the beginning.
  • Grounds for Divorce. While every state has different legal grounds for divorce, the state of Florida allows divorce for only two grounds: mental incapacity of one of the persons or the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. In most cases, the second option is used as grounds for divorce in Florida.

After an Annulment or Divorce

If your marriage is annulled by a court in the state of Florida, you have no legal obligation to the other party, as there was never any formal legal marriage that was valid. This means that there will never be any alimony or division of property between the parties. However, if a marriage is considered valid, and the parties decide to divorce, they will need to go through a court process to determine the division of property, as well as possible alimony payments, child support payments and child custody arrangements.

Contact an Attorney Today for Help

If you are considering separating from the person you are married to, you may wonder if you qualify for an annulment versus a divorce. Contact an experienced Fort Lauderdale family attorney at the office of Joyce A. Julian, P.A. at 954-467-6656 or visit us online to schedule a free consultation today.





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