So you entered into a marriage, but right from the start you knew something is not right about your marriage? Well, annulment may be an option for you. It is important to remember that divorce is not the only way to terminate a marriage. A marriage can also be ended through a process called Annulment. Similar to a divorce, once a civil annulment is granted, spouses become single again. The article below is written for educational purposes and should be used solely for those purposes. It will list the ins and outs of the process called annulment. As always, it is advised to consult your local family law attorney who has experience in dealing with matters surrounding annulment.
Difference between Divorce and Annulment
Often times, Divorce and Annulment is often confused. However, it is important to remember that there is a huge difference among two. Divorce signifies the end to marriage whereas annulment signifies that marriage never existed from its inception. Some people believe that just because marriage lasted for a short duration, it can be easily annulled. However, that is a common myth. Duration of the marriage has nothing to do with granting of an annulment. If you and your spouse have been married for a short duration, then unless there are grounds for annulment, divorce is the right option to choose. In the state of Georgia, divorces are much more common than annulment because it is much harder to prove grounds for annulment.
When is Annulment an Option?
Similar to a divorce, when Court grants an annulment, marriage ends, and spouses are eligible to get remarried. However, unlike divorce, annulment goes a step further. Once annulment is granted, it is implied that a marriage never existed. For the Georgia courts to grant an annulment, it is essential to prove that marriage is voidable- meaning it never existed from the beginning. Several grounds can show that a marriage is voidable:
- One of the spouses is of unsound mind meaning the spouse lacks the ability to give informed consent due to a mental impairment or the influence of drugs
- One of the spouses was forced or coerced into marrying the other spouse
- One of the spouses made material false statements, which were essential to the basis of marriage.
- There is a physical impairment in the marriage, including sexual impotence, which interferes with the couple’s ability to consummate the marriage. However, if one of the spouses were aware that the other spouse had the physical impairment prior to the marriage, this ground cannot be used as the basis for annulment.
However, according to Georgia law under O.C.G.A. Section 19-4-1 annulments are not permitted in any marriage where children are born or are to be born as a result of the marriage.
What if my Marriage is Void or Illegal
Annulment can also be granted on the basis of a void marriage. Unlike the voidable marriage, when the marriage is classified as void, it is automatically made invalid due to the fact that it was not legal from the start. To classify the marriage as void, the following can be shown:
- Bigamy: One of the spouses is already married to someone else
- Underage: One of the spouses is underage and does not have the parental consent or court approval to get marriage, however it is important to remember that annulment may not be an option if the underage spouse continues to stay marriage after reaching the age of consent.
- Incest: Marrying a close family member most states outlaw marriages between relatives that are closer than second cousins.
These types of marriages are considered void or illegal from the start. Your state may offer annulment, divorce, or both to end a void marriage.
Annulment Pros and Cons
Before deciding whether annulment is a good choice, it is important to keep in mind advantages and disadvantages of getting an annulment. You should certainly weigh the options before you decide how to end your marriage.
Advantages of Obtaining an Annulment
The main benefit of getting annulment is that the law treats marriage as it never existed- and there is nothing to further deal with in regards to marriage. Generally, the Courts do not divide the property during an annulment, but in few states, courts can award alimony if annulment is granted. However, on the contrary, when a divorce is granted, a Court usually deals with other issues like property division, child custody support, and usually the attorney fees. However, if the children are involved in annulment proceedings, the Judges have the discretion to consider custody and child support arrangements. But if children are involved in an annulment, judges will have to consider custody and support arrangements. An annulment does not affect the legitimacy of children born during marriage. Furthermore, annulment does not affect paternity, which means that the husband will still be presumed father of any children his wife gave birth during the marriage.
Disadvantages of Obtaining an Annulment
If you are seeking an annulment over a divorce decree, several challenges can be presented. To prove annulment can be quite complicated and expensive. Today states, including state of Georgia, offer no-fault divorce, where spouses can simply cite the irreconcilable differences as the reason for the separation. In order to be granted annulment, it is important to prove at least one ground listed above which existed at time of the marriage. Before court can grant annulment, during the trial more evidence is required including witnesses who can show that annulment should be granted. Additionally, states place time limits on when annulment can be granted, and it is important to be aware of the time limits if you are interested in obtaining annulment.
It is important to remember that annulment is not for everyone, and only a small percentage of population qualifies for an annulment, however, if you think annulment may be right option for you, it is important to talk to your local attorney to discuss your available rights and options.
Our attorneys at Coleman Legal Group have helped people like you obtain annulment. We are experienced in divorce and family law related matters and can likely help you! Call us today at 770-609-1247 to see if you qualify for an annulment.