What Is An Annulment Vs. Divorce?

Updated October 19, 2022 by ReGain Editorial Team

Want To Talk About Divorce - Or Something Else?

Are you one of the many people that aren't happy in your marriage? Maybe you and your partner have been growing apart for a while. Maybe something has happened that you can't get past. You might decide to separate for some different reasons, but you might have questions when it comes to how you're going to separate. That's why you're probably considering annulment vs. divorce, and maybe you're not sure which one is the right choice.

What Is An Annulment?

Have you heard of an annulment before? If you haven't, then you're not alone because some people never think about it. If you decide that you need to end your marriage and that you and your partner just can't or don't want to make it work, they get a divorce. An annulment, however, is sometimes an option that you can consider. There are specific situations that you need to fit in to get an annulment instead of a divorce, but there are some benefits to going through those hoops.

An annulment, unlike a divorce, means that, for all intents and purposes, the marriage never actually happened. If you meet the specific qualifications that are listed, you and your partner can sign a paper that says your marriage was never valid, legal, or binding in the first place, and therefore you are both going to walk away like it never actually happened. As we said, though, there are specific things that have to happen for a marriage to be eligible for annulment. If you don't meet those qualifications, you have to get a divorce if you want to end your relationship legally.

So, just what do you need to get an annulment? Several different things could provide cause for annulment. These include:

  • Marriage between close relatives (just how close is subject to the laws of the state you live in)
  • Mental incapacity (such as a person who doesn't understand the agreement they are entering into)
  • Underage marriage (one of the parties is under the legal age to consent to marriage)
  • Duress (someone who is being pressured into the wedding when they don't want to)
  • Fraud (the marriage is being carried out to achieve some illegal means such as marrying to change someone's immigration status)
  • Bigamy (being married to someone else and going through a second marriage)

If any of these apply to you or your partner, you may have grounds for annulment. Of course, there may be more (or fewer) situations where the just cause is present depending on the specific state that you live in. If you and your partner are looking to end your relationship, you may want to look at the rules regarding annulment to find out if it is an option for you.

What Is A Divorce?

We've probably all heard of divorce. When you and your partner decide that things just aren't going to work out, that's what you probably think about, right? You might decide to end things for some different reasons, but if you or your partner (or both of you) aren't happy, it's probably the best idea to end things now before either of you end up even more unhappy. You don't deserve that, and it's important to remember. You (and your partner) deserve to be happy, and if that isn't happening in your relationship, then divorce might start to look like the best option.

With a divorce, unlike with an annulment, you acknowledge that the marriage happened and that it was valid and legal but that you want to be no longer bound by it. If you and your partner don't fit the qualifications for an annulment, you will have to think about a divorce instead. Keep in mind that plenty of people enter into a relationship with love and plans for the future, and that relationship doesn't work. If that's you, it's important to recognize that there is nothing wrong with that.

Divorce is allowed in some different situations. In most states, all you need is 'irreconcilable differences.' That's it. You tell your lawyer and the judge that you and your partner have irreconcilable differences, and they will allow you to get the divorce with absolutely nothing else needed. That's not true everywhere, however, so it's important to know what the rules are in your state. You need to know what you and your partner have to do to end your relationship.

For most states, you can get what is considered a 'no grounds' divorce, which requires absolutely nothing from you or your partner. If you live in a state that requires you to have an 'at fault' divorce, it means that one or the other of you must have done something to cause a breakdown of the marriage. Keep in mind that some defenses can be raised if your partner does not want the divorce, this can make it a little more difficult to get the divorce, and you may have to go in front of a judge. Some of the different 'at fault' causes can include:

  • Adultery
  • Cruelty
  • Abandonment
  • Mental illness
  • Criminal conviction
  • Drug abuse
  • Impotence
  • Religion

The other party can raise responses to an at-fault divorce or even to a no-fault divorce, and you will both be required to go in front of a judge to discuss ending the relationship. In some areas, the judge may require you to go through some steps to attempt to reconcile the marriage (or decide for certain that it cannot be repaired), but in most areas' divorces are granted if one party wants them, even in states that require cause for a divorce.

Are You Ready For Annulment Or Divorce?

If you're thinking about getting a divorce or annulment, it's important to make sure you're ready. Just because you and your partner are having trouble does not mean that you are ready to get a divorce. Think about how much you and your partner have been fighting or arguing or just what is happening in your relationship that makes you think you're ready to leave it behind you. While some things may be automatic 'deal-breakers for you, other things may be possible to reconcile if you and your partner are willing to do so.

Look at what is happening in your and your partner's lives. What kind of problem do you have? Is it something that you would potentially be willing to work through? Maybe you have been fighting a lot, but you're willing to work on it if they are. Maybe you've been drifting apart, but you're interested in working with your partner. Have the problems just started, or have they been going on for a long time? Looking at each of these things will help you understand just what you want to do (or don't want to do). Jumping into anything is not going to be good for either of you.

Anyone who is considering an annulment or divorce should start by talking with their partner. Find out what is going on with either one of you and what each of you is feeling. Maybe your partner or you don't realize what the other person is thinking or feeling. It's possible you could start making changes and decide that your relationship will work out after all. Of course, it's also possible that you could talk about it and decide even more strongly that things will not work between the two of you.

Getting The Help You Need

Whether you and your partner are looking to make things work or have decided to call it quits, you must seek professional help. Even if you are the one who decided to end the relationship, it's going to be a big step for you to get through. Remember, this is someone that you have spent a great deal of time with and invested a lot into. You will feel the loss, which means you will want someone to help you work through that kind of loss.

Want To Talk About Divorce - Or Something Else?

Regain is one way that you can get the help that you're looking for. This online service lets you connect with therapists and psychiatrists throughout the country without having to worry about finding a location and going to their office. You'll be able to comfortably talk to whoever you want without having to leave your own home; it's going to improve your ability to relax.

The most important thing is just finding someone and being sure to open up to them as much as possible; that way, you're going to have a better chance of getting through this the right way. Check out Regain to find out more.

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