Annulment vs. Divorce

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Divorce vs. Annulment|Anchorage, AK|Law Office of Jennifer Messick LawUnlike a divorce, which recognizes that a marriage had an official beginning and end, an annulment declares the marriage to be null and void – as if the marriage never existed in the first place.

In an annulment, the courts do their best to return the individuals’ lives to what they were like before the marriage.  This means that you walk away with everything you walked in to the marriage with, and anything that was gained during the marriage as a joint venture is split equitably.

As simple as an annulment might make getting your life in order after ending an unsatisfactory marriage, actually qualifying for an annulment isn’t so simple. Only very special circumstances allow for annulment of marriage.  According to an article from Fox Business, certain grounds must be met in order for an annulment to be granted:

  • If a fraud or concealment is involved, such as one party keeping a drug addiction or felony charge hidden from their spouse.
  • The refusal or inability of one party to consummate the marriage, or the determination that the two parties are close relatives and are in an incestuous marriage.
  • The conclusion that one or both parties were unable to consent to marriage because of lack of understanding.  For example, if one party is mentally ill or for some other reason unable to make a decision to marry with full knowledge of what the marriage entails.

Marriages of any length can be annulled, but there may be time limits for filing based on when the grounds for annulment took place.  In Alaska, you must consult with an attorney if you want to file a case to void a marriage.

The divorce process may be longer, but such special circumstances aren’t required to obtain one.  In Alaska, you can use no-fault or fault grounds to file a divorce.

A no-fault divorce is one where the spouse asking for a divorce does not have to prove that the other did something wrong.  To get a no-fault divorce, one spouse must simply state a reason for the divorce that is recognized by the state, such as incompatibility.

Division of property and assets, child custody, and child support are common areas that a divorce addresses, which is why divorces are more drawn out and complicated than getting an annulment. But, a divorce most often involves a couple who joined their lives together for some time.

Simply put, annulments are for marriages that were never meant to happen at all while a divorce is for marriages that didn’t work the way the parties involved had hoped.

If you find yourself in a dead-end marriage, no matter the circumstances, contact an experienced divorce attorney to discuss your options.

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About Jenn Messick

I am an attorney practicing at M/V Alaska Law, an Anchorage, AK law firm helping clients all throughout Alaska navigate legal issues in divorce, family law, probate, and bankruptcy. I'm an outdoors person who enjoys hiking, skiing, hunting, spending time with family, and the beautiful scenery in Alaska. Jenn Messick's Google+ Profile

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