Annulment vs. Divorce

If you and/or your partner at looking at separating, you may have some questions about what legal options exist for you when determining how to end your marriage. There are two ways to legally end a marriage in the State of California: annulment and divorce. 

What is the difference between an annulment and divorce?

An annulment of a marriage legally wipes it away – it declares that legally, the marriage never existed and was never a valid, legal union; while a divorce is the dissolution of a marriage – it is the ending of a marriage, while still maintaining that the marriage was a valid and legal union.

Both an annulment and a divorce can be initiated by either spouse in a marriage, but unlike a divorce, in an annulment, the spouse requesting the annulment must provide sufficient grounds for the annulment. These grounds can include charges of bigamy (that either party was legally already married to someone else at the time of the marriage at issue), fraud (that one of the spouses agreed to the marriage based on the lies of the other spouse), mental illness (that either spouse was mentally ill at the time of the marriage), underage marriage (that either spouse was legally too young to enter into the marriage at the time of the marriage), as well as other charges.

In a divorce, many states have either “no-fault” divorces or “fault” divorces. In a no-fault divorce, neither party is legally considered more “guilty” or “innocent” than the other, as to the cause of the break-up of the marriage. A fault divorce may only be granted when, like an annulment, one spouse can prove that there has been some misconduct on the part of the other spouse, or some legal cause to invalidate the marriage. Examples of misconduct that can be cause for a fault divorce include adultery or abuse (either emotional or physical).

Both annulments and divorces can be complex, messy matters. In many cases, spouses feel emotionally manipulated by the other spouse and are in need of solid guidance. The Law Office of Anne Dowden Saxton has been assisting clients in the greater Los Angeles area for several decades – if you have any questions about annulment or divorce, please call us today. We are ready to hear the specific facts of your case, and we understand that no two marriages are the same. We will vigorously advocate for you, and your children, to secure for you everything that can be afforded to you under the law.

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