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Marriage is supposed to be forever. However, with more than 50 percent of all unions ending in divorce, many want to know their options.

The Catholic church made the annulment a hallmark when it came to legally and ethically ending a marriage. While it’s a lawful process, it’s not often used in courts today. Understanding the difference between a divorce and an annulment will help a person identify how they can successfully dissolve their marriage.

When Divorce Is The Best Option?

When a couple doesn’t agree on the terms or reason for separating, then a divorce is necessary. One party sues the other party for a bill of divorcement. A petition is made before the court stating the grounds and prospected ways that assets should be split. If there are children, then visitation and support become part of the equation.

There is much back and forth between the parties, and their attorneys, to ensure a fair division. If the couple has been married for many years, then spousal support may be established too. Shockingly, more than 950,000 couples file for divorce in America each year. These long and drawn out battles are difficult because most people cannot agree on trivial matters. If both parties are in sync, then a dissolution is a better option.

Why Some Choose An Annulment?

Annulments are not as widespread as divorces in the legal system. The problem is that there must be proof that the union should have never happened. The grounds for this procedure can be fraud, bigamy, or the marriage wasn’t consummated. Couples would use this way out if they got married after a night of partying and woke up realizing their mistake. However, some use the annulment process when they have been married under false pretenses for years.

There are two types of annulments, ones conducted by religious affiliates and those conducted by the court. If a person gets a termination from the church, then they must get one legally done through the courts for it to count. Some churches say that if an individual is divorced, they are not allowed to remarry unless they cancel out the previous marriage. However, the legal system doesn’t use such stipulations.

One of the reasons why an annulment is not often used is because of the burden of proof. The court wants to see documentation to grant this action. If no evidence is available, then the couple will have to file for divorce. Any prenuptial agreements made before the marriage are null and void. Transactions are done while married are reversed, and the court will not grant any spousal support or division of assets.

In most annulments, there are no children involved. Consequently, some people believe that getting a termination will help them thwart their obligation for child support. Fortunately, the court puts children and their needs first, and there is no way around paying for the obligation to support a child.

Choosing Divorce or Annulment

When considering an annulment or a divorce, it’s better to consult legal counsel. Since each situation is unique, a knowledgeable professional can help guide a couple down the right path.

Carin Maxey’s blog posts are not legal advice and are meant for informational purposes only. If you require legal advice, please seek a licensed professional in your jurisdiction.