What Are the Differences Between Annulment and Divorce?

While annulment and divorce are entirely different concepts, many people believe they are the same thing. The two procedures are based on different reasoning, however. A divorce is a way of ending a marriage because there has been an irretrievable breakdown of the marital relationship. An annulment is a decree by a court that the marriage never actually existed.

To understand what an annulment is, it is important to understand what it is not. It is not a divorce. In a divorce, a court recognizes that the couple is married and then ends the marriage. After a divorce, the formerly married parties are free to remarry, but legally, their marriage existed and has been terminated.

An annulment is entirely different under Minnesota law. An annulment is a declaration that the parties were never legally married. A marriage is not ended through an annulment; rather, it is declared not to have legally existed at all. To successfully petition a court for an annulment, there must be legal grounds supporting the decision. Some of the most common grounds for annulment include:

  • Both parties must have the legal capacity to enter into a marriage for it to be considered valid. The influence of alcohol or drugs can be enough to remove capacity to consent. Capacity is also an issue when consent was obtained by force or fraud. In any of these situations, a decision by the nonconsenting party to live with their spouse will create a valid marriage.
  • Underage children cannot enter into a marriage without a parent or guardian consenting on their behalf.
  • Certain marriages are not allowed and therefore are not valid if performed. People who are currently legally married to someone else cannot enter into a second marriage. Additionally, certain relatives are prohibited from marrying each other under incest laws.
  • Inability to consummate. When one spouse lacks the physical ability to consummate the marriage and hides that information from the other spouse, annulment is allowed.

In order to successfully seek an annulment, certain strict deadlines must be met. For help seeking an annulment, speak to an experienced Minnesota divorce lawyer at Appelhof, Pfeifer & Hart, P.A. right away.

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