Let’s explore the differences between divorce and annulment, the two main legal ways to end a marriage. While both options serve to dissolve a marriage, they have significant differences in their legal effects and implications.
An annulment essentially voids a marriage as if it never happened, while divorce recognizes the marriage but terminates it. Understanding these differences can help a person make an informed decision about which option is best for their situation.
Reasons for an Annulment
An annulment is a way to end a marriage that, in a sense, pretends it never happened. Some may prefer an annulment because it can help avoid the stigma of failure associated with divorce. One or both parties may wish the union had never occurred and want it to be erased from history.
However, annulments are not easy to obtain. Here are some reasons why an annulment may be granted.
When actress Renée Zellweger filed for an annulment from singer Kenny Chesney after just four months of marriage, she cited fraud as the reason. She was eventually granted the annulment.
Fraud could refer to various things. For instance, one spouse could have lied about something that had a significant impact on the other spouse. This could involve their ability to have children, their sexual preference, marrying to gain citizenship, or one spouse being underage at the time of marriage.
In the UK, twins who were separated at birth found out they were siblings after getting married. They later successfully sought to have their marriage annulled in a secret court hearing.
Although rare, unintentional incest does occur. In such cases, courts must allow for the events to be quietly cast aside.
Bigamy occurs when a person marries someone while still legally married to a prior spouse.
A lack of consent applies primarily to cases where one person is coerced into marrying another. This is most evident in cases involving teen brides in certain fundamentalist religions.
5. Temporary intoxication
A number of years ago, Britney Spears was hanging out with her childhood friend, Jason Alexander, in Las Vegas. The two got married one night and, barely 55 hours later, the marriage was annulled.
6. Disability or mental illness
This occurs when one or both spouses enter a marriage without fully understanding the consequences due to a disability or mental illness. Sometimes, mentally capable individuals may marry someone with an intellectual disability and take advantage of them.
7. No consummation of the marriage
A marriage in which the parties did not engage in sexual activity can be annulled.
8. Marriage prohibited by law
In the past, marriage was inaccessible to same-sex and interracial couples. However, such unions have been made lawful. However, there could be legitimate reasons for a marriage to be considered an illegal union that we have not covered here.
9. Religious annulments
In certain religions, such as the Roman Catholic Church, for example, you can receive a religious annulment after getting a civil divorce. This annulment allows both parties to remarry someone in their religion.
Reasons for Divorce
Divorce, or the dissolution of a marriage, is complicated. Depending on your state, you may have both no-fault and fault divorce options. In a no-fault divorce, neither is blamed for the breakup and you don’t necessarily have to supply a reason.
1. At-fault divorce reasons
In an at-fault divorce, one spouse wants the other to have the responsibility of being blamed for ending the marriage. Many states, however, no longer recognize fault divorces. An at-fault divorce may have been affected by issues such as:
Addiction. The particular problem could be a serious addiction to anything from drugs and alcohol to gambling and sex.
Adultery. One or both spouses could have had affairs.
Abuse. Whether physical or emotional, one spouse subjects the other to domestic abuse.
Abandonment. Sometimes one spouse will leave the other.
Mental Illness. One spouse could have developed an incurable mental illness.
Prison sentence. If one commits a crime, is convicted, and is sent away to prison for a significant amount of time.
2. Objections to at-fault divorce
You can object to an at-fault divorce for these common reasons.
Collusion. In collusion, both spouses agree that one of them will take the fault for whatever allegation the other cooked up. It was a common practice long ago when two people grew tired of their marriage and wanted an easy way out.
Condonation. Condonation (related to “condoning”) is the acceptance of a certain type of bad behavior. If the marriage was an open one, and one of them tries to file an at-fault based divorce claiming adultery, it’ll backfire. It can be difficult to prove condonation due to lack of documentation.
Connivance. Connivance is about setting a partner up. It happens when one suspects the other is cheating. An elaborate scheme is hatched to catch the deceitful partner in the act.
For example: Say a woman knows her husband is struggling with sex addiction. She invites her female friend over to entice her husband into doing something improper. The wife arrives home to find her man in bed with her friend, just as she planned.
In court, she alleges adultery. However, he could argue that his wife set him up and connived him into it.
Provocation. Someone made you do it. If a wife accuses her husband of domestic abuse, he could claim she provoked him by hitting him first. It’s taboo to talk about this but male domestic violence exists. In these cases, men are victims just like women.
Often, men stay in bad relationships and this may involve a significant degree of denial. They may, for example, want to protect their children. Perhaps their church encourages them to continue to work on the union. Men may persist for the same kinds of reasons that women do.
Comments on Divorce and Annulment
At the end of the day, most courts want to have a solution to the problem of an unhappy union. That could mean an annulment or divorce. Ending the marriage isn’t especially difficult. After all, courts aren’t interested in keeping people together when one or both parties clearly want it to end.
The article gave you general information that may be accurate for jurisdictions like British Columbia (BC) and California for example. However, readers are advised to check jurisdiction-specific laws for confirmation about the rules that may apply to them. Do this before making any legal decisions concerning whether you are allowed to file and be granted either an annulment or divorce.
Do I Need a Divorce Certificate to Remarry?
Yes, you will need a divorce certificate to remarry. You should be able show proof that you are no longer married by producing a final divorce order or a certificate of divorce before you obtain a marriage license. It is illegal to be married to more than one person at the same time.
Most jurisdictions require a couple to provide information about their marital status when applying for a marriage license. This information is used to check whether either party is already married. Depending on the jurisdiction, additional checks may also be carried out, such as verifying the identities of the applicants and checking for any legal impediments to the marriage.