There are a few ways to end your marriage, or the obligations of marriage. The first and most common is your standard divorce. The other alternatives include Annulment and Legal Separation. Most of us know the basics of what a divorce entails, it gets a little more confusing when people ask for an annulment or legal separation.
For one reason or another, a party will prefer to end their marriage by nullity proceedings. However, despite various celebrities’ ability to be granted an annulment, it isn’t something you can just ask for and receive. It can get a little tricky. There are certain grounds you have to prove in order for your marriage to be found null and void.
A petition for nullity of marriage should only be considered when the validity of the marriage is questionable. Nullity of marriage hinges on the premise that no valid marriage ever occurred. A marriage can be found void if proper procedure or law was not followed. For example, if there wasn’t a proper license, solemnization, or authentication of the marriage. In other words, you can’t go to Las Vegas and have just any Elvis marry you, he has to be a properly-licensed Elvis to make your marriage official and legal. Another way a marriage can be found void is if there are other legal impediments that would prevent a lawful marriage. Bigamy, fraud, force, one party being a minor, or unsound mind would be the most common. Usually, the celebrity marriages that end after only a few days or hours are able to annul their marriage because they claim they were of unsound mind (extremely drunk or on drugs) and were not capable of understanding the obligations assumed by marriage.
A legal separation is usually an avenue chosen by people who do not want to terminate their marital status for personal reasons. Common filings for legal separation occur when people have certain religious beliefs or health insurance concerns.
Legal separation is similar to divorce in that it will divide your property, assets and debts. Often, there is even the same child custody and visitation issues as a divorce. The substantial difference is that technically the parties are still “married”. The court is not asked to terminate the marital status.
Another large difference between legal separation and divorce is that you cannot remarry after legal separation. You would have to terminate the marriage status before you could remarry.
If you have any other concerns or questions on the differences between divorce, annulment or legal separation, feel free to post on our interactive forum and one of our attorneys will address them AT NO CHARGE.