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Specializing In Family Law Litigation And Mediation

Is an annulment the same thing as a divorce?

Both divorces and annulments end marriages. However, the repercussions of each are very different. Individuals who wish to end their marriage in California are encouraged to explore the legal differences between these two processes and what requirements they mandate in order to be completed.

If a marriage is annulled it is effectively deemed to have never existed because it was never legal. Annulments may be based on incest and bigamy. The presence of one of these factors in a marriage voids the marriage in its entirety and makes it as though the marriage never occurred. Annulments may also be based on marriages entered into due to force or coercion, marriages that involved underage persons and marriages that involved individuals who are physically or mentally incapacitated at the time their relationships were legalized.

Some religions require individuals to secure annulments before they allow individuals to remarry in their churches, because divorces do not fully expel the affected marriages from the parties' histories. Rather, a divorce simply breaks the legal bond that was forged between two people when they chose to become spouses. Although individuals may no longer be bound together through their marriage, they may still have obligations to each other through property rights and spousal support.

In sum, a divorce ends a marriage but an annulment makes it as though the marriage never existed. Each type of legal process carries with it its own requirements and ramifications for the parties, their children and their property. It is important that readers discuss their legal needs with their family law attorneys before committing to either path toward ending their marriage.

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