What Is the Difference Between Annulment and Divorce?

October 17, 2019

Huntsville divorce lawyers discuss the difference between annulment and divorce.

Couples who no longer want to be legally married in Alabama can choose between a divorce or an annulment. However, although both types of separation will end a marriage, each has unique characteristics.

What is a Divorce in AL?

A divorce involves submitting a complaint through the appropriate county courts. Each complaint will involve listing a reason for the divorce, known as a legal ground. For instance, someone could allege insanity, adultery, or cruelty, among other grounds. “No fault” grounds include an irretrievable breakdown or a separation of at least two years.

The complaint is not just registered with the court but also sent to the other spouse, or defendant. He or she can choose to respond. Whether they do or not, the complaint will continue through the court system. Ultimately, the complaint should end in a divorce judgment unless it is held up, as in the case of a contested divorce. However, divorces cannot be contested forever.

What is an Annulment in AL?

Annulment is like divorce but has its own set of circumstances. Essentially, an annulment is not just dissolving a marriage. Instead, it is declaring by law that the marriage never actually existed. In other words, an annulment erases a marriage completely.

Not surprisingly, the way to get an annulment in Alabama is to be able to prove very specific grounds. These include that the marriage happened under duress or some kind of fraudulent activity, or that one of the people who married was under age 14 when the marriage papers were signed.

Another grounds for annulment is if one or both of the married spouses was significantly impaired because they were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time the marriage took place. For instance, a couple who met at a bar, got very inebriated, and ended up getting a “quickie” marriage could file the next week for an annulment.

Bigamy, marriage between very close blood relatives, and even impotency are also grounds for annulment in the state of Alabama.

Annulment’s Effect on Child Support and Alimony

Once an annulment has been granted, the marriage is dissolved. However, if the couple shared any children together, the parent retaining primary physical custody will still be entitled to receive child support.

On the other hand, alimony is generally not considered an option for marriages that end by annulment. After all, the marriage was considered not applicable, so neither adult party can be legally held to support the other financially for a period of time.

Huntsville Divorce Lawyers at Hodges Trial Lawyers, P.C. Counsel Clients on Whether Annulments or Divorces Make Sense for Their Situations

Do you have questions about filing for an annulment or divorce? If you live in Alabama, visit the Huntsville divorce lawyers at Hodges Trial Lawyers, P.C. Our team of compassionate attorneys is ready to help you make the best decision based on your case. Arrange a confidential consultation by calling 256-539-3110 or 888-539-3110. You can also contact us online. From our offices in Huntsville and Athens, we represent clients throughout the surrounding communities of Madison County, Limestone County, Marshall County, Jackson County, Morgan County, and Lauderdale County, Alabama.