What is the difference between an annulment and a divorce?

Aug 8, 2012 by

Question: 

What is the difference between an annulment and a divorce?

State: 
Pennsylvania

Answer: 

A divorce is the termination of a legal marriage. Annulment is a void or voidable marriage that was never legal in the first place. Many people incorrectly assume they can obtain an annulment if they have only been married a short time. Annulment is never used to terminate a valid marriage no matter how brief it was. Annulment refers to very specific legal conditions that render a marriage contract invalid. And regardless of jurisdiction, very few marriages actually meet conditions that qualify for annulment.

In most cases (and most states), one of the following would have to be present in order for a marriage to be annulled:

  • Bigamy or Prior Marriage (you can only be married to one person at a time)
  • Incest (no marriage to close relatives such as father-daughter, mother-son, uncle-niece, and aunt-nephew, etc.)
  • Mental Illness (at the time of marriage)
  • Physical Disability (if it makes normal married life impossible)

- The Divorce.com Team

Wendy Jaffe and Divorce.com can only provide general information about divorce. DO NOT RELY ON MS. JAFFE’S ADVICE ALONE. Before acting on information provided by Ms. Jaffe or by Divorce.com, talk to an attorney first about your particular facts and the law of your state. By submitting your question to Divorce.com, you are not creating an attorney/client relationship with Ms. Jaffe or with any of the other attorneys listed on this site.

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