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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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Client testimonials
  • "Tori had a thorough understanding of my situation and made excellent recommendations to resolve my concerns. She was persistent on communication and handled everything in a very timely manner. I would definitely hire her again in the future if needed." - M.K.

  • "With Appelhof, Pfeifer & Hart, P.A., it is like having a family physician. They are all knowledgeable, thorough, comforting, and the only call I need to make for all my legal needs for many years to come. No matter what the matter, I totally trust their advice and commitment to me and my family." - J.N.

  • "Mary from APH Law helped me thru a difficult divorce. She and the entire staff was there for me every step of the way helping me on what to do next. They listened to what I wanted and helped me achieve what matter the most to me in the divorce settlement." - Dana C.

  • "I chose APH after my initial consultation with Mary. I felt my best interest would be represented. The entire process went excellent, the attorneys and staff communicated effectively and efficiently with me throughout the process as they needed to. Being new to the legal process and verbiage, they walked me and talked me through the next steps and the jargon, I felt completely comfortable and represented. I hope I never have to use legal services again but if I do I will call Mary at APH Law and know that I will be taken care of." - Jeff M.

  • "Divorce is a time of emotion and stress. Mary Pfeifer , My lawyer was professional and compassionate. She was very informative through the process. Her insight helped me in my decisions. She worked hard to obtain a settlement which was fair to both parties. Though, I hope I won't need her help again. It is reassuring to know a good person that is willing to help." - Rod S.

  • "I first came to Ms. Jacquelyn Lutz of Appelhof, Pfeifer and Hart in October of 2016. It was definitely the worst time in my life and she compassionately spoke with me about my options. Ms. Lutz thoroughly explained the laws, statutes, process and what to expect going forward. What was supposed to be one case, turned into three intricate cases that took a huge toll on me and my family. Ms. Lutz represented me in court on all three cases with a vast knowledge of the laws and how to proceed accordingly. During all three cases she kept me informed, calm, gave me resources to utilize, and (most important) gave me a realistic view of what may come next. Ms. Lutz knew each case required a great deal of knowledge and creative thinking on how to legally proceed forward with each case. My family and friends are forever grateful for the amazing representation by Ms. Lutz. I highly recommend Ms. Lutz for anyone needing or considering superb representation for any kind of family law. " - M.H.

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