What is the Difference Between Annulment and Divorce?

Posted in Divorce on November 5, 2023

Both annulment and divorce will end your marriage, but the two terms have several differences that can play a role in what occurs under the law. At Ratzer|Dobis, our Solana Beach divorce attorney works to provide our clients with comprehensive information and insight into all of their legal options, and a component of that process is educating them about these types of differences.

Under California law, there are several differences between annulment and divorce to consider.

The Legal Requirements

One of the key differences is the legal rights to file either option. To file for divorce in the state, you need to meet the residency requirements and then file for dissolution. In an annulment, you must go a few steps further by showing that the marriage is either invalid, voidable, or void in some way. In short, annulment aims to erase the marriage, while divorce simply ends it.

Grounds for Filing

To file a divorce, you can simply file the dissolution of marriage documents, including those that allow for a no-fault divorce. You can implicate the other party in some type of fault, but it is not necessary. In an annulment, you have to prove that some violation occurred, including bigamy, incest, fraud, or other grounds as noted by the California Courts.

Time Requirements

In a divorce, you do not have to wait any length of time to file. An annulment can require a specific time frame depending on the grounds you are filing for, and that could mean there is a short window of opportunity to take action.

Legal Results

When a divorce occurs, both parties are no longer legally linked to each other. At this point, all property jointly owned by them during their marriage and all debt owed by each party is divided between the two. Divorces may require that child custody, child support, and spousal support be paid. In an annulment, the marriage ends, but it is, instead, treated as though the marriage did not occur at all. That means that all property and debts acquired during the marriage are divided or split based on the court’s decision. This often is in relation to the grounds for the annulment.

Which Route Is Best Suited for You?

It is best to work with an attorney who can examine the details of your case to determine if an annulment or a divorce is the better option in your situation. Annulments are complex and require research to back up any claims, and the burden of proof is on your shoulders. However, in many cases, this is the best route to take when there are grounds for it, especially if there is clear evidence that the marriage should be void or invalid for any reason.

When you meet with our legal team, we will discuss what you can expect. Contact Ratzer|Dobis now to discuss your case with our legal team. Allow us to offer transparent insight into what you can expect in any of these situations. Let us fight for your best possible outcome.