Navigating the intricacies of family law can be a daunting task, particularly when you're going through a relationship breakdown. If you're considering ending your marriage in Florida, it's essential to understand the options available to you.
In some cases, an annulment may be more appropriate than a divorce. Read on to learn more.
Annulment vs. divorce in Florida: What’s the difference?
Annulment and divorce differ in terms of outcome, eligibility, process, cost, and time commitment.
Outcome: A divorce officially ends a valid marriage. An annulment declares a marriage null and void as if it never existed.
Eligibility: Florida law is more stringent about annulments than divorces. To get an annulment, you must prove that the marriage was invalid from the start. Thus, you must prove there was fraud, duress, or an inability to consummate the marriage. But if you want a no-fault divorce, you do not need to prove wrongdoing by either party.
Process: Divorce and annulment both require court proceedings. However, because annulments require proof of invalidity, they often involve more complex legal arguments – potentially more court appearances.
Cost: The cost of both processes can vary. Generally, however, annulments can be more expensive due to the additional legal arguments required.
Time commitment: The time frame depends on the specifics of your case. That said, an annulment often takes longer than a straightforward divorce.
The grounds for annulment in Florida include bigamy, being underage, mental incapacity. These are not the only grounds. For a complete list, go here.
Pros and cons of annulment and divorce
Understanding the pros and cons of annulment and divorce can help you determine which option is right for you.
Pros: An annulment can provide closure to those who believe their marriage was invalid. It may also be preferable for religious or cultural reasons.
Cons: Proving the invalidity of a marriage can be difficult and time-consuming. And since the marriage is considered to have never existed, issues like marital property division and spousal support are not addressed in the same way as in a divorce.
Consider a situation where a couple got married impulsively in Las Vegas. After a few days, they realize that they were not in the right state of mind at the time of the marriage due to excessive alcohol consumption. In this case, an annulment would be the right approach, as the marriage could be considered invalid from the start due to impaired judgment.
Pros: The divorce process may be simpler than annulment in Florida due to its no-fault laws. Further, the divorce decree clearly outlines property division, child custody, and spousal support.
Cons: Divorce can carry a social stigma and may conflict with certain religious beliefs.
Imagine a couple who have been married for several years and have children together. They have tried counseling and other strategies to improve their relationship, but they continue to have irreconcilable differences that cause harm. In this situation, divorce would be the better option, as it provides a clear framework for discussing child custody, child support, alimony, and the division of property.
Read our article, Grounds for Divorce in Florida, to learn the acceptable reasons for divorce in that state. Note that one of the grounds is the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, which can encompass a lot of different reasons for a break-up.
Choosing between annulment and divorce depends on your situation. Look at your reasons for wanting to end the marriage, your financial circumstances, and your personal beliefs. If you’re not sure what to do, consider consulting with a family law attorney for legal advice.
At Hello Divorce, we provide a host of services to help you through this time, including one-on-one sessions with a divorce attorney, mediation, and a menu of online divorce plans that provide the degree of help you need. And yes, we can also help with the annulment of marriage. We strive to make the process as fast and painless as possible because, after years of experience, we understand and believe that both of you deserve to move forward with dignity and start your next chapter with positivity.