Difference Between Divorce and Annulment

 Posted on November 20, 2015 in Annulments

annulmentjpgWhen one or both spouses want to end their marriage, they can seek a divorce. Legally, a divorce is a legal declaration that a valid marriage is over. A common misconception is that an annulment is a quicker or easier way to get divorced. In reality, an annulment is a legal order stating a marriage is not valid. In other words, it is a legal order that a legal marriage never actually existed. State law sets out very specific requirements for annulments, which can make it difficult to pursue. However, an annulment may be appropriate in some cases, and could benefit you if applicable.

Requirements for Annulment

Formally known as a declaration of invalidity, a legal order of annulment is rarely granted because of the strict legal limitations. Illinois law states that an annulment can be granted for one of the following reasons:

  • One party could not consent to be married (due to fraud, impairment, mental disorder, or force);
  • One party is unable to have sexual intercourse, and the other party was unaware of this at the time of the marriage;
  • One party was a minor and did not have parental consent for marriage; or
  • State law did not permit marriage between the parties (for example, the parties are close relatives or already married to someone else).

There are also important time restrictions when filing for an annulment. If the person requesting the annulment files due to their inability to consent, they must file within 90 days. If a minor is married without parental consent, the parent can file for an annulment before the child’s 18th birthday. If the person is filing due to their spouse’s unknown impotence, they must file within one year. However, there is no time limit for filing if the marriage was illegal under the law.

Impact of Annulment

First and foremost, the impact of an annulment is that the marriage is legally declared invalid. This means that the marriage was never considered valid, and the parties are not considered to have been spouses. With an annulment, it is like the marriage never actually occurred. Because the marriage never legally existed, matters like alimony and distribution of marital property are not at issue. As with every family law case, every annulment is different. It is important to consult with an experienced attorney.

Reach Out to Our Attorneys Today

Our skilled Kane County family law attorneys have decades of combined legal experience. We have successfully represented Kane County clients in a wide variety of family law matters. Whether you have questions about an annulment, divorce, or other issue, we can help. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and to learn how we may be of assistance in your case.



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