Although both an annulment and divorce terminate a marriage; differences exist in the process, after effects, and means for obtaining.
Unlike a divorce, which recognizes that a marriage at one point existed, an annulment is retroactive and dissolves the wedding completely.
An annulment finds a violation that eliminates the couple from entering into an eternal bond, it is a tool that cancels out the marital contract from happening. Divorce is granted at the couple’s discretion, while an annulment must violate a process’s legal aid.
The process to annul a marriage is often tedious and impersonal. Unlike a divorce, there is little interaction between spouses when obtaining a decree of nullity. The procedure starts with a Legal assistance
The process to obtain a decree of nullity contains legislative red tape, numerous forms, and most importantly, patience. The starting point for a marriage annulment is a petition.
Similar to the form used to file for divorce, the petition will ask basic questions such as residence and occupation in addition to personal questions such as problems during marriage or reasons for getting married.
The petition contains approximately 10 pages and acts as the summons for the respondent, all the information for the trial, and even testimony itself. All information including joint property, debts, assets, and violations of the marital contract is present in this form.
Often times overlooked, an annulment lawyer can be a vital resource given the circumstances and assets involved in the case.
Since an annulment awards property rights and child custody like a divorce an annulment lawyer’s importance can be paramount.
Convincing a judge that a party is insane, impotent, or guilty of fraud is difficult for those inexperienced at trial law.
An annulment lawyer will not only aid by producing an argument against the respondent, but also by clarifying the ambiguity of varying state laws and legislation.
If an annulment is established within a few weeks of marriage and there is a direct violation of the marital contract, then an annulment lawyer’s value dissipates.
In order to determine the necessity of legal aid, one must adopt a useful cost-benefit analysis.
Like most legal codes, interpretations and rulings of annulment laws vary based on state and jurisdiction. The general conflict of law question pertains to individuals marrying in one state and filing for an annulment in another.
The filing of the annulment petition must take place in your place of residence. However, the annulment laws are carried out based on the celebration state’s (state where the wedding took place) interpretations.
The ambiguity lies within contrasting laws for states. Marriage between first cousins or incest is grounds for an annulment in some states but not others.
The underlying question in regards to a state upholding an annulment request is based on its public policy. Before entering such a process one must grasp the specific annulment laws of both his place of residence and the celebration state.
Effect on Children
A common misconception concerning marriage annulments is the question pertaining to children’s rights and legitimacy. Due to their religious background, children are viewed as legitimate after a decree of nullity is obtained, no matter the circumstances.
The Catholic church views any child born, no matter the situation, as sacred. Consummation via incest, infidelity, force, or any other action that would deem the marriage void, is still considered legitimate. Similar to a divorce trial, a child’s rights and custody will be distributed based on the parent’s competence and situation.
Due to the typical length associated with annulled marriages and opportunity costs a court system incurs by administering such a case. The presence of children during an annulment trial is rare.
Availability of an annulment
Unlike a divorce, an annulment can only be granted if a violation of church law is present at the wedding ceremony. Decrees of nullity revolve around the exchange of wedding vows and the procedural requirements of the wedding itself.
The vows or “contract” of the marriage must be upheld so the sanctity of the bond can be fulfilled. These stipulations include fidelity, eternity, and consummation.
Annulments are not granted based on the feelings or desires of those involved in the relationship, but instead, the contract itself and the ceremony that finalized such an agreement.
What to Expect in Court
The Catholic church only considers a marriage void if a direct violation of church law occurred during the exchange of wedding vows. Unlike divorce, a couple cannot receive a religious annulment based on personal desire, spousal abuse, or unhappiness.
The relationship itself is not in question, but instead, the disposition of those involved during the time of the wedding, and the ceremony itself. Once an annulment is received the religious rights will be unchanged in regards to remarrying in the church and attending mass.
If a divorce is not followed by an annulment, the Church will recognize an active marriage and will not allow a Church wedding to take place. In regards to rights, a divorcee will still be allowed to attend mass, raise a family Catholic, and receive communion.
Annulment and Catholicism
Due to the implicit connection between the Catholic church and their commitment to background theocratic dogma, the referencing of Biblical passages and allusions are not uncommon upon attempting to negotiate legal processes in the spectrum of religious faith.
People who have opted to make their religion a cornerstone of their respective existences have made a commitment to allow both the country in which they reside, as well as the religious ruling doctrine under which they identify to play a symbiotic role in authorizing and substantiating the events in which they participate.
The First Amendment of the United States includes the separation of church and state in order to prevent the United States from becoming a theocracy.
Although the majority of the authors of the Constitution identified themselves as Deists, meaning that they believed in the presence of a higher power, they were critical of the absence of individual liberties and freedoms that ran rampant underneath past theocratic rule.
What is an Annulment?
An annulment is a legal procedure undertaken by married individuals to denounce that their marriage never took place. The annulment process declares a marriage null and void; it is held in contrast to a divorce which recognizes that a marriage at one time took place.
An annulment is therefore retroactive; an annulled marriage is considered to be invalid from the onset of the marriage.
A marriage is in essence a contract. Two individuals agree to the stipulations that the marriage enforces, and through this agreement, are connected in the eyes of the particular state government where the marriage took place.
An annulment, as a result of its retroactive status, takes the contract and deems it void, which in turn rules the wedding as null.
Valid Reasons for an Annulment
There are two basic forms of annulment: an annulment in a Catholic Church and a civil annulment that is instituted by a local court system.
The qualifications of a civil annulment will vary based on state, but there are several common grounds that will deem a marriage null and void.
The basic reasons that will deliver a declaration of nullity are: if the marriage was entered into by one party through force, a threat, fraud, intoxication, or the concealment of vital information, such as the presence of children.
An annulment will also be granted if one of the parties was underage at the time the marriage took place, or if the couple is closely related.
In the majority of states, the universal petition form used for divorce is also used to declare a marriage null and void. For an annulment, an individual simply checks the box for nullity rather than dissolution or divorce. These forms are obtained through your state or jurisdiction’s Family Law Division or county court.
The petition must be filed in the county of your residency, even if the marriage took place in another state. Similar to a divorce, there are filing fees attached to the submission of an annulment application.
Typically annulments are mutual, meaning both parties will agree to declare the marriage void; however, if one party contests the initiation of an annulment, a hearing will be scheduled where both parties will present evidence to the state.
The state will in turn review the facts of the marriage (how it was commenced and under what pretenses it was agreed upon) and base the delivery of the annulment in relation to the qualifications which can legally declare the marriage null and void.
The Catholic Church possesses strict rules about marriage that explicitly impede the ability to allow for remarriage. Catholics, to receive an annulment, must submit themselves to an annulment process if they wish to have a second marriage recognized by the Church.
An annulment will be granted by the Catholic Church if the institution finds that the marriage was entered into without discretion, or without legitimate intentions to procreate, stay together until death, or remain faithful.