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What is the difference between an annulment and divorce?

On Behalf of | Apr 2, 2023 | Divorce

When a couple decides to end their marriage, both parties will undoubtedly have many questions. In certain cases, they may wonder if an annulment could be an option in their case. Here is some information on the difference between an annulment and a divorce that can help Maryland individuals and families better understand their choices.  

What is an annulment? 

An annulment is a legal avenue that people may explore if they have a reason for their marriage to be nullified; that is, if they would like it to be as if the marriage never occurred in the eyes of the law. There are a few different circumstances under which an annulment could be granted. Some examples include a marriage that was entered into under fraudulent circumstances, or one where one spouse was married already, or if either party was not of sound mind at the time of the marriage. If a marriage qualifies for an annulment, this could make it easier for both parties; annulments can go more quickly than divorces and can allow for the skipping of certain, steps such as division of property. 

What is a divorce? 

By contrast, a divorce is a legal process whereby a couple formally dissolves a marriage. This starts with the filing of a divorce petition, which can be done by either party. A divorce is governed by many laws that seek to protect the interests of both parties, with issues like shared property, spousal support and custody of shared children being worked out during the process. 

Annulments are only an option in very specific cases, whereas the process of divorce can be used to end a wide range of marital relationships. In some situations, individuals or soon-to-be ex-couples may need help determining whether an annulment or divorce is right for them. It is advisable to speak with a Maryland family lawyer to determine the best steps forward. 

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