The decision to marry is one of the most important decisions a person will ever make and while this can be the best decision you have ever made, for others it is the worst experience of their lives. For those who have realized that the marriage they have entered is the wrong choice, separating is the simplest way to rectify their situation. Separation requires legal authority and isn’t always affordable or cheap and can be in the form of divorce or annulment. While these words are often used interchangeably, they are two different processes. Both dissolve the marriage but the intricacies are often overlooked.
Annulment and Divorce
If both of these terms are defined as the dissolution of marriage, what makes them different? Understanding the different options available to you will help decide which solution is the best fit for your situation.
Annulment has two different options: civil, which is conducted by the state, and religious, which is conducted by the church. We will only be discussing the civil annulment in this article.
The fundamental difference between annulment and divorce is that the former is a process by which the couple obtains a decree that the marriage was invalid from the beginning whereas divorce acknowledges a valid marriage and its dissolution. These differences seem simple enough however it is the legalities that cause confusion.
Family Law Procedural Differences
While both annulment and divorce proceedings can be lengthy and even a little messy, and thus the advice of a Separation Lawyer in Winnipeg, MB is recommended, annulment is considered a little simpler because they do not typically address things like alimony, custody, or division of property like the divorce process. Since annulment declares the marriage invalid from the beginning, there is no alimony or maintenance income granted to either party and when it is time to divide assets, the court attempts to put each party in the financial state they were in prior to marriage. In divorce, alimony may be granted to one party and the courts work to distribute assets equally between both parties without consideration for financial status prior to marriage.
Generally, if a marriage has been brief it has a better opportunity to qualify for annulment while long-standing marriages end in divorce but anyone is eligible to initiate either proceeding. Some qualified reasons for divorce include adultery, desertion, cruelty, infidelity, bigamy, and inability to consummate the marriage while annulment qualifications include fraud, misrepresentation, concealment, inability to consummate the marriage, and misunderstanding. To help ensure you are selecting the proceeding that suits your situation, it is suggested to consult with a divorce attorney as soon as you have decided to end your marriage.