Civil Annulment: What It Is, Who Can Get One, And Its Benefits

A civil annulment is an alternative to divorce that may be right for you. Below is a general overview of an annulment, including what a civil annulment is, who can get one, what the benefits of one are, and how a divorce attorney can help you. 

What is a Civil Annulment and Who Can Get One?

Just like divorce, an annulment is a dissolution of a marriage. Unlike a divorce, however, a civil annulment makes it as if the marriage never occurred which is why it's more difficult to obtain an annulment than it is a divorce.

There are a number of circumstances that may allow for a civil annulment, including fraud or marriage by force.  If your spouse lied about who they were, if there was a major misunderstanding between the two of you, if either one of you was coerced, or if you recently discovered you're blood relatives, an annulment may be a viable option.

Why an Annullment May Be Beneficial

An annulment allows for a dissolution of a marriage without the stigma of divorce.

While divorce is certainly not uncommon in the United States, there still seems to be a social stigma surrounding those couples who choose to divorce. When you annul a marriage, you're legally free to note your marital status as 'single' as opposed to 'divorced' on legal documents, and for all intents and purposes, your marriage actually never occurred. This can also be beneficial if you'd like to someday marry in a religion that's opposed to divorce and remarriage, and it also means that property that belonged to you prior to the marriage or obtained by you during the marriage won't be considered shared property.

How a Divorce Attorney Can Help

Due to the legal requirements of filing for an annulment, consulting with a divorce attorney should be your first step.

It's not enough for you and your spouse to claim to meet the criteria for an annulment. Instead, this criteria must be legally proven, and a divorce attorney can be your biggest source of help. If, for example, you want to annul your marriage because you claim that one or both of you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol during the ceremony, it's likely that witnesses would need to be called to testify to that claim. Your attorney can help you to collect the information you need, as well as gather the witnesses and other evidence, such as video recordings, that can support your claims.

To learn more about civil annulment and whether it's right for you, consult with a divorce attorney.