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What’s the difference between divorce and legal annulment?

Most Texas couples go into marriage thinking that it’s going to be forever. However, that doesn’t always happen.

When happily ever doesn’t work out, there are a few options available to the unhappy couple. Divorce is the most common option, but legal annulment might be available to some couples.

What is the main difference between the two?

Divorce legally ends a valid marriage and both people walk away single. Divorce is most often used years into the marriage for people who just simply don’t want to be together anymore.

A legal annulment, on the other hand, declares the entire marriage to be null and void. In other words, it’s like the marriage never happened because it was never valid.

How do you seek an annulment?

Many people seek an annulment shortly after their marriage, claiming that there’s a reason it should have never happened at all or it wasn’t legal. Usually, the marriage in question has to meet at least one of the criteria to be considered eligible for annulment:

  • One or both spouses believe that they were forced or tricked into the marriage
  • One or both spouses were under the influence of drugs, alcohol or had a mental disability
  • One or both spouses were already married at the time
  • One or both spouses were not 18 years or older
  • One spouse concealed a major issue from the other – substance abuse, criminal history, children, illness, etc.

It’s pretty rare for a marriage to meet one of the qualifications for annulment, which is why people turn to divorce. People who will share responsibilities such as children, finances, etc. after the marriage most often don’t qualify for an annulment.

However, seeking an annulment is still preferable to a divorce if you believe you meet the qualifications. It’s important to consider all of your options before filing for either.