What is the Difference Between a Divorce and an Annulment in Florida?
If you are thinking about ending your marriage, you might be wondering whether you should file for divorce or seek an annulment. In colloquial terms, many people assume that annulment is a procedure for marriages that are short-lived, or that were entered into by both parties without enough foresight. In other words, there is often a sense that, if you made a mistake getting married, the best option might be to seek an annulment. In other cases, parties that are particularly religious may want to seek an annulment instead of a divorce for religious purposes.
Regardless of the reason that you may want an annulment or believe that one is appropriate, it is important to understand that divorce and annulment are not interchangeable. In theory, marriages in which the parties are eligible to get divorced are not interchangeable with marriages in which the parties are eligible to get an annulment. Yet while Florida has a divorce statute, it does not have a specific annulment statute. Accordingly, some people who may be eligible for an annulment ultimately seek a divorce. We will say more about the differences between divorce and annulment in Florida.
Reasons for an Annulment in Florida
As we mentioned, Florida does not have a specific statute governing annulment. However, annulment is only appropriate in situations where the marriage was not legal in the first place. In other words, annulment is a way to put a legal end to a marriage that was not legal to begin with. Under Florida law, examples of marriages that may be eligible for annulment (or grounds for annulment) include but are not limited to the following:
- Incestuous marriage, or parties related to one another;
- One or both parties lacked capacity to consent to the marriage (as a result, for instance, of mental illness, influence of drugs, or influence of alcohol);
- One or both parties was too young to legally consent to the marriage;
- One or both parties legally had another spouse at the time of the marriage (also known as bigamy;
- One of the spouses fraudulently convinced the other spouse to get married;
- One of the spouses was under duress when she or he agreed to the marriage; and/or
- Parties never consummated the marriage.
In order to be eligible for an annulment, the party that seeks the annulment must prove that there are grounds for annulment. Any of the above grounds may be sufficient for a court to grant an annulment, but there also may be other grounds that an experienced Florida divorce lawyer can discuss with you.
Reasons for Divorce Are Distinct from Reasons for an Annulment
Unlike an annulment, divorce is intended to dissolve a legal marriage. Rather than needing to prove grounds for divorce, the party that files a petition for the dissolution of marriage only needs to show “no fault” grounds, which is to say that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.” In addition, one of the parties must meet certain residency requirements of residing within the state of Florida for at least six months prior to filing for divorce.
Contact a Divorce Lawyer in Florida
Do you have questions about annulment versus divorce? An experienced divorce attorney in Florida can help you with your case. Contact Bubley & Bubley, P.A. to learn more about how we can assist you.