The Difference between Annulment and Divorce
Franklin divorce lawyer explains what you need to know to protect your interests
Divorce is such a complex and emotionally draining process. You have to sort through everything you own and determine who gets what. You have to dissolve all your joint accounts and change over all your beneficiaries. You may even have to sell property so you can split the profits. And that’s just looking at some of the financial issues involved! Wouldn’t it be easier to just get an annulment? Well, in most cases, yes, but that doesn’t mean that you can.
“Annulment” is a legal term for an action that declares that a marriage is null and void. Basically, an annulment says that the marriage was never valid in the first place – almost like it never even existed. While you may wish your marriage never happened, the courts can’t wave this magic wand for you. And to get an annulment, you must meet specific criteria.
To get an annulment, you and your attorney usually must show that you gave one of the following grounds:
- That one of you was under the age of 16 and the marriage was in violation of the marriage statutes (TCA 36-3-105 and the following sections)
- Was bigamous (one of you was already married and believed the first spouse to be living)
- There was a denial of marital rights (one refuses to cohabit with the other, one refuses to consummate the marriage, before the marriage you agreed not to cohabit, the marriage was in jest, etc)
- One of you lacked sufficient mental capacity to consent to the marriage and did not thereafter ratify it during a lucid interval
- Impotency which existed prior to the marriage, by clear, convincing, and corroborated evidence
- Duress (one of you was coerced into the marriage and incapable of free consent)
- Fraud calculated to induce the marriage, and the innocent party relied on that inducement
You may also argue that you were physically incapacitated when the marriage took place.
If a marriage ends in an annulment, the courts can still decide division of assets, child support, and child custody. However, unlike with a divorce, there is no waiting period for an annulment. If you want a divorce in Tennessee, you can file at any time, but you have to wait at least 60 days for the case to move forward – 90 if you have children. The law requires this as a “cooling off” period. No period of separation is required before you file for divorce though.
An uncontested divorce in Tennessee – one in which both spouses agree to the divorce – can take a few months to resolve. If the divorce is contested, such as if one spouse is claiming infidelity or abuse, the case can drag on for years, depending on the assets and the circumstances involved. An annulment does not necessarily cause the case to end more quickly. Further, one can only get an annulment if they meet one of the established criteria.
Whether you are seeking an annulment or a divorce, you should always work with an experienced divorce lawyer to guide you through the process and to fight for your interests. Otherwise, you risk giving up more than you should in assets and losing out on precious time that you want with your children.
As an experienced Franklin divorce lawyer, I have represented clients who qualified for an annulment, as well as many going through both contested and uncontested divorces. I evaluate the circumstances and let my clients know the most advantageous option, and then I fight to get them what they want. My goal is to help my clients get the best division of assets, as well as to get a fair parenting plan order. Call my office at (615) 791-8511 to schedule a free consultation, or use the secure online form to provide some information so I can call you back. The end of your marriage may not be easy, but I can at least make the legal aspects of it a little easier to bear.