Your marriage is over, but should you get a divorce or an annulment? Here’s what you need to know about the two options.
Ending a marriage isn’t a decision taken lightly. Despite numbers about the allegedly high divorce rate, anyone who considers ending their marriage should realize how complicated it can be.
Everyone knows divorce is common, but what about annulment?
Annulment vs. Divorce
Both an annulment and divorce legally end a marriage, but that’s where their similarities end. The difference is significant. You should understand both before you choose.
A divorce is the legal dissolution of a marriage. Both parties agree to end the marriage, but courts and other legal entities still recognize that both parties had been legally married.
An annulment is a legal procedure that completely cancels a marriage. It states the marriage never technically existed because the marriage itself was invalid.
What Are the Grounds for Marriage Annulment?
In order for an annulment to be granted, you must show your marriage was invalid from the start. Because the marriage shouldn’t have legally happened, the courts will recognize the annulment.
An annulment is more difficult to get than a divorce. Being incompatible is one thing, but showing the marriage should be legally invalid is another.
Annulment laws differ from state-to-state. Nebraska annulment laws don’t differ much. If any of these situations apply, you may seek an annulment instead of a divorce.
Inability to Consummate Marriage
This is what most people associate with marriage annulment. It’s related to old Catholic laws. If either spouse is physically incapable of sexual intercourse or was impotent, you can file for an annulment.
Did you recently learn your spouse was never legally divorced from their spouse? Have you recently learned your spouse has a secret family and is legally married?
If the bride or groom was already married to another person when you were married, that’s bigamy. Bigamy isn’t legal in Nebraska and any “marriage” that occurs when one party is already married isn’t legal.
Did your spouse make threats to persuade you to get married? Did your parents or family members arrange your marriage and convinced you to go through with it?
If you were forced or threatened into marriage, that’s viewed as forced consent. People who are married under duress can seek an annulment.
Fraud can be one of the most popular causes for an annulment. But it can also be one of the most difficult to prove.
- Your spouse claims they have just a year to live, but once married you learn they’re perfectly healthy.
- After you marry, you learn your spouse has an extensive criminal record and children who need support.
Fraud can’t be proved by simple displeasure. To claim fraud because your wife goes out every night after she said she likes to stay at home won’t grant you an annulment.
Fraud should be used only when there is willful and serious misrepresentation.
Marriage Prohibited by Law
Nebraska’s legal system isn’t perfect, and it’s possible some people got married even though they weren’t legally able to in the first place.
Marriage between people related by blood is considered incest and isn’t a legally recognized marriage. An underage spouse can’t consent to marriage, and any marriage between an adult and a child isn’t valid.
Did you get married when you were under the heavy influence of drugs or alcohol? Is it possible you got married when your spouse was having a manic episode or was emotionally disturbed?
Mental health can be important when you decide between an annulment or a divorce.
This can be an important avenue to explore for people concerned about the marriage of a family member who isn’t mentally healthy.
Did your parent with Alzheimer’s or dementia recently get married? If you can prove they can’t consent to marriage, you may save them from suspected scammers and criminals.
Should I Get an Annulment or Divorce?
The decision between an annulment or divorce is actually simple when you look at the laws behind each.
Annulments happen in very specific situations. If your marriage falls into any of the previous categories, you could qualify.
It’s important to remember an annulment isn’t simply the end of a marriage. An annulment wipes the marriage from existence.
A divorce can be easier to get because you don’t need such rigid reasons. If you don’t see your marriage falling under those circumstances, it’s safer to seek a divorce.
Make a Clean Break
If you’re thinking about annulment or divorce, your marriage is at an end.
In the meantime, read the educational content we have on our blog.
Are you concerned about the upcoming battle for custody you’ll face? Read our post on child custody mediation cases so you can make the right decisions.