What Is the Difference Between a Divorce and an Annulment?

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What Is the Difference Between a Divorce and an Annulment?

couple considering divorce or annulmentIn Texas, you can end a marriage in several ways. Two common means of getting out of a marriage are divorce and annulment. What’s the difference?

A divorce is a legal ending of a marriage. A divorce does not wipe the marriage away:  it dissolves it. A divorce in Texas results in the division of community property assets in an equitable fashion between the parties.

Unlike a divorce, an annulment is a declaration that the marriage was invalid from the start. An annulment might be granted due to factors that existed when the couple married. There is no provision for the division of marital property in an annulment.

The Texas Family Code outlines the conditions under which a divorce might be granted, or a marriage might be annulled.

What Are the Requirements to Get a Divorce in Texas?

To obtain a divorce in Texas, you must meet certain requirements. These include:

  • Having appropriate grounds for the divorce
  • One spouse must have been a resident of Texas for the prior six months
  • One spouse must have been a resident of the county where the divorce papers were filed for the prior 90 days

What Are the Requirements for Annulment in Texas?

considering an annulment in texasTo get a marriage annulled in Texas, the marriage must have taken place in Texas, and one of the parties must live in Texas. The annulment must take place within 30 days of the marriage. Additionally, any of the following circumstances must have existed at the time of the marriage:

  • One party was under 18 and over 16 but did not have parental consent or a court order
  • The party requesting the annulment was under the influence of drugs or alcohol and didn’t have the capacity to consent to the marriage at the time and didn’t voluntarily live with the other party after they became sober
  • One party was permanently impotent when the marriage took place, the other party didn’t know about the impotence, and has not cohabited with that person since discovering the impotency
  • The petitioner was forced, through fraud, force, or duress, to marry, and hasn’t voluntarily lived with the other party since the fraud, force, or duress stopped
  • The petitioner didn’t have the mental capacity to enter into the marriage at the time of the ceremony and didn’t voluntarily live with the other party if the petitioner became competent after the marriage
  • If the other party was divorced in the 30 days prior to the marriage, the petitioner didn’t know about the prior marriage and upon discovering the marriage, didn’t voluntarily cohabit with the other party
  • The marriage took place before the required 72-hour waiting period after obtaining the marriage license had passed

You have a limited period of time to request an annulment in some cases. For example, if your annulment is based on the marriage happening before the marriage license waiting period was over, you must file within 30 days of your date of marriage. If the annulment is happening because of a previous divorce, you have one year from the date of the marriage to file for annulment. Because the timelines vary depending upon the grounds for the annulment, it’s best to talk with an experienced family law attorney to be sure you file for your annulment in time.

Who Initiates the Proceedings?

Another difference between divorce and annulment is that divorcing couples have to initiate the divorce themselves. One party must file a petition for divorce to start the process.

In an annulment, multiple parties could initiate the proceedings. In some circumstances, the parties to the marriage could file for an annulment. In other instances, invested people, like a parent or a “next friend,” can act on behalf of one of the parties to start the annulment process. For example, this could occur when one of the parties had a mental illness that made them legally unable to enter into the marriage.

Contact Us

Our Katy divorce attorneys bring 35 years of experience to every case we take on. We’ve been recognized by Martindale-Hubbell, the Katy Chamber of Commerce, and H-Texas Magazine for our excellence. The attorneys of Adams Law Firm have the knowledge to help you with your case and the understanding to factor in what’s unique to your particular case.

Whether you need a divorce or an annulment, the experienced Texas family law attorneys of Adams Law Firm can help. Call us today at (281) 391-9237 to get started. We can discuss your options in a confidential consultation and help you decide what your next steps should be.

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