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What Is The Difference Between Divorce and Annulment?

Legal annulment and divorce are two different ways of dissolving a marital union. The differences between these two methods are the reason for ending the marriage and the outcome. If the marriage dissolution is amicable and based on irreconcilable differences, or if it is fault-based, caused by infidelity, the couples should opt for a divorce.

However, if there are reasons to show that the marriage is illegitimate and cannot be considered a legal marriage, an annulment may be possible. If you want to learn more about the differences between annulment vs. divorce in Texas, contact Youngblood Law, PLLC today. Our law firm can help you through the divorce process and advise you on your options for divorce.

Family Law Attorneys at Youngblood Law, PLLC

At Youngblood Law, PLLC, we care about advising our clients so that they can make informed decisions about their futures. Ending a marriage is tough and we want to help you in any way that we can. Our law firm specializes in mediation and helping clients get favorable outcomes in divorce through negotiation. However, if necessary, we will bring your case to a family court and fight on your behalf.

We have a wide range of experience with divorce and related family law issues. Our lawyers can help you through the divorce process and get a favorable outcome for your case. Four of our attorneys are Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, which is a recognition that only 1% of family law attorneys have in Texas. We have a deep understanding of family law and want to use this knowledge to help your case.

Call our law firm today at 817-369-3970 for a consultation with our divorce attorneys.

Annulment Explained

Marriage annulment is another way of dissolving a marriage. However, unlike divorce proceedings, an annulment invalidates a marriage union. If you get a legal annulment issued by a court, the order will state that you were never legally married and the marital status never existed.

With an annulled marriage, neither party can make claims to another person’s property or assets and there is no legal ruling for marital issues, such as spousal support. This process is distinct from a divorce, which requires that marital property be divided between both spouses and that a divorce decree be written up and signed by a Judge.

There are distinct legal differences between divorce and annulment, and it is essential to understand these differences before applying for either. If you had a valid marriage, you will be ineligible for annulment, as it must be based on certain circumstances.

Legal Grounds For Annulment

To apply for a marriage annulment, your marriage must meet one of the legal grounds provided under the Texas Family Code. There are two types of annulment: civil annulment vs religious annulment. Judges in Texas do not recognize religious annulments automatically and you must apply for a civil annulment to end the marriage legally. To apply for a civil annulment, you must meet one of the following requirements:

Underage Spouse

Underage marriage is a valid reason for annulment in Texas. If one spouse was under the age of 18 but over the age of 16, and the marriage happened without a court order or parental consent, a guardian may file for annulment on their behalf. However, once the person turns 18, they can no longer file for annulment on these grounds.

Mental Incompetence

For a marriage to be legal, both spouses must be mentally competent at the time the marriage license is issued by a Judge. If one or both spouses were mentally incapacitated and unable to legally consent at the time of marriage, there are grounds for annulment. To apply for an annulment, a guardian or parent of a mentally incompetent person can apply on their behalf.

Fraud, Force, or Duress

Many legal annulments are granted on the grounds of fraud, duress, force, or misrepresentation. If one or both parties committed fraud to coerce the other party into marriage, such as giving a false identity or lying about having an existing marriage with children born prior to this marriage, the other spouse may file for annulment. Other valid grounds can include being forced into marriage through threat or coercion.

Under The Influence

A Judge can grant an annulment if one or both spouses were under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the marriage. The spouse seeking annulment must prove that they have not been living with the other spouse since the time of the marriage and they must present evidence to show they would not have married the other person had they not been under the influence.

Other Grounds

State laws provide other specific grounds that are valid for annulment. These grounds include:

  • Impotence – When one party was impotent at the time of the marriage and the petitioning spouse did not know this.
  • Concealed Divorce – If one party remarried within 30 days of divorcing another person and did not inform their new spouse.
  • Less Than 72 Hours – If a marriage took place less than 72 hours after the marriage license was issued, it can be annulled.

What Is The Difference Between Divorce and Annulment?

The primary difference between divorce and annulment is that divorce dissolves the marriage union, whereas an annulment says that the marriage never legally existed. There are certain benefits that come with a divorce, such as the division of marital property and spousal support. These benefits do not come with annulment, as the marriage is essentially invalid.

Most divorces in Texas are no-fault divorces. A no-fault divorce does not require much evidence to be submitted before the divorce is final. However, an annulment requires significant evidence and has a high burden of proof. Fault divorces require significant evidence to prove fault as well. However, the burden is much higher for annulment.

Property Division

When both spouses seek a divorce, there are laws surrounding the division of marital property. In Texas, property gained during the marriage is community property. This property is divided fairly and justly between both parties when a Judge grants a divorce.

However, with annulment, there is no divorce decree, and spouses involved in the marriage do not have legal rights to the shared property. There is no obligation for a Judge to divide property after the annulment. So, if your spouse purchased a family home and you seek annulment of the marriage, you are not entitled to a share in the property.

Spousal Support

Spousal support is a payment that can be issued by a court to be made by one spouse to another spouse after a legal separation or a divorce. If you meet the legal requirements for spousal support, you can make a claim to recover it from your spouse after a divorce or separation. However, spouses do not have the same ability to claim spousal support after an annulment because the marriage becomes void.

Does Annulment Affect Child Custody?

If there are children involved in a marriage, child custody issues are dealt with separately. When both spouses have children together and one spouse applies for annulment, the marriage can become null. However, the children are still ‘legitimate’ under the law.

Depending on the situation, and whether both spouses agree to child custody matters, you can get a custody arrangement issued by the court. If it is not in the best interests of your children to see the other parent, you can apply for a sole-custody arrangement. However, you must have valid reasons and evidence to support your case, such as family violence.

You may need to apply for a Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship (“SAPCR”), which can be done as part of legal separation proceedings and happens when there is no valid divorce decree. Issues involved in a SAPCR can include custody and health insurance. The lawyers at Youngblood Law, PLLC can help you with this process.

Can I Get an Annulment in Texas?

Getting an annulment in Texas can be quite difficult, depending on your situation. If you meet one of the legal requirements, such as mental incompetence, underage marriage, or fraudulent marriage, then you could get an annulment through the family courts. However, you will need sufficient evidence and documentation to prove your case.

It may be more difficult to get an annulment if there are children involved or if you lived together for a long time. In most cases, our law firm recommends applying for a divorce rather than an annulment.

Contact Youngblood Law, PLLC Today!

If you believe that your marriage has ended and want to learn more about your options, contact Youngblood Law, PLLC today. Getting an annulment is quite tricky in Texas, and family courts do not issue annulments lightly. Our law firm always suggests that couples opt for a divorce rather than an annulment, as the process is more favorable to the parties involved. We can help you through divorce proceedings and help get a positive outcome for your case.

At Youngblood Law, PLLC, we understand that going through a divorce or legal dissolution of your marriage is difficult. We want to use our significant experience and competencies to help you in any way we can. We offer a unique brand of legal representation, which focuses on protecting your future after a divorce and ensuring you have the tools to start a new chapter of your life.

Our law firm will assign a family law attorney to your case, who will take the time to understand your unique case and build a legal strategy that works for you.

Call our law firm at 817-369-3970 to schedule a consultation today.

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