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What Is the Difference between a Divorce and an Annulment?

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Whether you're getting a divorce or an annulment, the end result would be to end your marriage. However, depending on your unique circumstances, you may be more suitable for one over the other.

Either way, it is crucial to understand the difference between both to make an informed decision. If you're confused about what is the difference between a divorce and an annulment, read on.

What Is the Difference between a Divorce and an Annulment?

The basic difference between a divorce and an annulment is that a divorce would result in the dissolution of your marriage. However, if you get an annulment, it would be as if you were never married in the eyes of the law.

Now, this may tempt you to get an annulment over a divorce, but it isn't always that simple. While there are a few similarities between the two, there are a number of differences as well, including the circumstances in which you may or may not be eligible to get an annulment.

Following are some crucial differences between divorces and annulments that you should be aware of.

Legal Justifications

One of the main factors that differentiate annulment from divorce is the legal justification. To get an idea about the common grounds for annulments, here are some valid reasons for annulment:

  1.  The couple discovers they are related to each other after getting married.

  2.  At least one of the spouses was already legally married, with or without the knowledge of their new spouse.

  3. Forced Marriage: Where one or both partners were forced to get married against their consent.

  4.  A shotgun wedding may be a good example of a wedding under duress.

  5.  At least one of the partners was too young to get married.

  6.  One of the partners attempted fraud or lied to convince the other partner to marry them. For example, using a fake disguise to get married.

  7.  If the husband is impotent and the other spouse wasn't aware of it prior to the wedding.


In some cases - depending on the laws of the particular state - making an impulsive decision to get married may also be an acceptable ground for annulment. However, in most cases, this only gets accepted if the couple files for annulment as soon as possible after the wedding.

In contrast, all the states in the United States allow couples to apply for a divorce without any justification. "Irreconcilable differences" are generally accepted as a valid ground for divorces, even if there is no history of problems between the two partners. This means that even if a happy couple wakes up one morning and decides they don't want to be together anymore, they can apply for divorce and get approved.

However, to get an annulment, there needs to be a valid reason.

Burden Of Proof

As discussed above, you need a valid reason for getting an annulment, most of which requires you to prove that the marriage should be considered invalid in some way. However, in most cases, there may be a valid reason for one or both spouses to be seeking a divorce.

Either way, it is the responsibility of the partner seeking a change in their legal marital status to provide proof. In the case of annulment, this is even more important since the person or couple has to prove that they have valid grounds.

In case only one of the partners is seeking a divorce, and the other still wants to try to reconcile things, the court may give the benefit of the doubt to the latter spouse. This means that they would allow some time for the couple to try to fix

things. In such cases, the court may consider it if the divorce-seeking partner can provide some proof as to why they want a divorce. For instance, in cases of infidelity or domestic abuse, the court may approve the divorce immediately, provided that there is proof of the claim.

Covenant Marriage

In case you live in Arizona, Arkansas, or Louisiana, you should be aware of the laws regarding covenant marriage. In such marriages, both spouses agree to participate in counseling before they file for divorce. Additionally, they agree to longer waiting periods before the divorce is finalized.

In such marriages, if one of the partners is seeking an annulment, they must have adequate proof of why they need it. In most cases, they would need a solid ground to apply for an annulment, considering the nature of such weddings.


Despite the drastic differences between the two, the procedure to seek annulment is quite similar to the procedure to seek divorce. In most cases, one spouse would file a petition, which would be followed by a hearing. The judge will then make a decision based on the particular case.

However, when seeking an annulment, both partners can file the petition together as well, depending on the reason behind the annulment. It isn't required to hire a legal consultant while seeking a divorce or annulment, but it is highly recommended, as it makes things significantly easier for both parties. It will also allow you to understand the legal complexities of the procedure before you file the petition.


Now that you are aware of the main differences between divorce and annulment, you can make a more informed decision about which one suits your situation better.

If you're looking to get legal advice on the subject, visit Huston Law. We will guide you through the entire process and will also assist you in filing a petition. Get in touch with us for a no-obligation consultation today.

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