Both an annulment and a divorce can end your marriage in Texas. But important differences exist between these two options.
In a divorce, a Texas court finds that your marriage was valid but something happened after the wedding that ended the union. In an annulment, the court finds that your marriage was never legally valid in the first place.
Annulment vs. divorce in Texas: What’s the difference?
Texas courts recognize two very different paths to end your marriage. Divorce and annulment vary according to the following key factors:
After a divorce, your marriage is over, and you have a new status: divorced. Your marriage was valid, but it's now no longer valid.
After an annulment, the court determines that your marriage was never valid. You return to your former status: single. It's as though your wedding never took place.
Texas courts allow annulments due to these situations:
- Age: One party was younger than 18 years old when the marriage happened.
- Substances: One party was under the influence of drugs or alcohol when they got married.
- Performance: One party is permanently impotent.
- Deception: The wedding happened due to force or fraud, or one party concealed a prior divorce.
- Mental health: One person didn't have the mental capacity to get married.
- Time: The marriage happened less than 72 hours after the parties secured a marriage license.
It's easier to get a Texas divorce. You must live in Texas for at least six months and in the county where you filed for at least 90 days. You can get a no-fault divorce in Texas; you're not required to prove a mistake by either party to file for divorce. You can just tell the courts you want your marriage ended.
Both divorces and annulments involve filing a petition with the court. After you've filed the paperwork, you must notify your spouse about the case, go to court to end or nullify your marriage and turn in the final paperwork. The forms are different, but the steps are the same.
To turn in your paperwork to the courts, you must pay a filing fee. That cost can vary from county to county. Contact the court in your county to find out how much the paperwork will cost.
Texas requires a 60-day waiting period for divorces. The count begins the day you file for divorce. You might need even more time if your spouse won't work with you, and you must work out your differences via a lengthy court case.
Annulments in Texas don’t come with a waiting period. But the courts in Texas can be crowded, and it can take weeks to schedule an annulment hearing.
Pros and cons of annulment and divorce
Is an annulment or a divorce right for you?
An annulment is a relatively quick process that can invalidate a marriage that never should have happened. You'll leave the process as though you were never married, which could be particularly important in some religious traditions.
A divorce can take longer, but you're not required to prove that anyone (including you) did something wrong to end your marriage. You could end your marriage simply because you want to.
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ReferencesAnnulling a Marriage in Texas. (January 2023). TexasLawHelp.org.
I Need a Divorce. We Have Children Under 18. (January 2023). TexasLawHelp.org.
Family Code, Title 1, Chapter 6, Subchapter A: Grounds for Divorce and Defenses. (April 1997). State of Texas.
Court Fees and Fee Waivers. (January 2023). TexasLawHelp.org.