Annulled vs Divorced: What Are the Differences?

Did you know that over 600,000 couples divorce every year? If you are thinking of separating your partner but are not sure whether you need to annul the marriage or get a divorce, you are in the right place. We have put together this guide to clear up the annulled vs divorced debate.

Read on to learn more.

What Is an Annulment?

Opting for an annulment means that the marriage is ended by the courts by declaring it null and void. This ruling states that the marriage union wasn’t legally valid. Although the marriage is erased it still remains on file.

Unlike contrary belief, an annulled marriage doesn’t mean that the marriage didn’t happen instead it means that it was never legal.

What Is a Divorce?

When it comes to a regular divorce or an uncontested divorce, this is when the legal marriage is dissolved or terminated. This ruling declares the legally valid marriage as ending in the eyes of the court system.

In a divorce both partners are declared to be single.

Legal Grounds for Annulment

When it comes to an annulment, the legal grounds vary from state to state. Most states consider these reasons to be legal grounds for annulment:

  • One or both spouses were already married
  • One or both spouses were tricked or forced to get married
  • The marriage was incestuous
  • One or both spouses couldn’t make a decision to marry because of alcohol, drugs, or a mental disability
  • One or both spouses were not old enough in the eyes of the law
  • One of the spouses concealed a major issue such as criminal history, substance abuse, an illness, or a child

This list is not all-inclusive but in most states one or more of these reasons is enough to be granted an annulment through the court system. Keep in mind that the condition will have to be proven in court in order for it to be granted.

Legal Grounds for Divorce

In a divorce both parties have to acknowledge that the marriage existed at one point. Some of the more common grounds for a fault divorce include: abandonment, adultery, or imprisonment.

In a no-fault divorce neither party has to prove fault on the part of their spouse in order for the judge to grant the divorce. Usually in a no-fault divorce the judge will cite the grounds for divorce as “irreconcilable differences.”

Whether a couple opts for a fault or no-fault divorce they might still have disputes over child custody, property, and finances. These disputes have to be settled through court orders.


Some people are under the impression that a short marriage is reason enough to have the marriage annulled. This is not accurate because a super short duration is not legal grounds for an annulment, the marriage has to meet one of the above conditions for a judge to annul it.

This also goes to say that, a marriage that has lasted years might not qualify for an annulment because too much time has passed. An example is in the state of California, an annulment on grounds of being deceived has to be requested within 4 years of discovering the fraud. If a couple waits longer than those 4 years, then the annulment will not be granted.

When it comes to divorce, some states will require the couple to live apart for a certain amount of time before either party can file for divorce. Also, some states will require the couple to be married for a minimum amount of time before they can file for divorce.


The process to obtain a divorce and an annulment is a bit similar. In either option one of the partners has to file a petition with the court. Then, a hearing is held and afterward the judge will issue a final order.

When getting a divorce, the petitioning spouse or their lawyer writes the petition and serves this on the other spouse and files the petition with the court.

Final Steps

In a legal annulment the judge might refuse to grant the annulment if the reason is not proved. With an annulment, neither party involved has the right to claim spousal support. Also, dividing property in an annulment is a bit different.

The courts try to leave each party in the same position they were before the wedding as far as their property goes. In a divorce dividing property involves applying the principles of diving community property or equally diving property assets.

When it comes to no-fault divorces, the refusal to grant this is extremely rare. Both spouses are required to disclose all the information as far as personal assets, expenses, and income go. In the event that both spouses agree on the terms of their divorce then they simply have to file the paperwork and legal documents.

The court will look over and find that both parties are in agreement and allow the court to enter their final judgement. This final judgement means the marriage is legally dissolved and terminated. If the parties don’t agree to the same terms then the last resort is to go to trial.

Feeling Like an Annulled vs Divorced Pro?

We hope that now that we cleared up the annulled vs divorced debate, you can make an informed decision on which route to take for your own situation. As you can see both of these are options to legally end a marriage or a domestic partnership.

Did our blog post come in handy? Check out the rest of this section for more guides.

Previous post 5 Tips for Elegantly Inviting Guests to Your Wedding
Next post 4 Things Every Corporate Party Needs To Have

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *