What is the Difference Between Annulment and Divorce in Florida?
When a person is thinking about divorce, that person might be wondering: do I have the option of choosing between divorce and annulment? To be clear: generally if you are eligible for divorce, you are not eligible for an annulment (and vice versa). We want to say more about common misconceptions about annulment and divorce, and the situations in which a marriage can—and cannot—be annulled.
Misconceptions About Annulment and Divorce
Many misconceptions exist about annulment and the reasons that people have a marriage annulled. One common misconception is that a married person may have the option of choosing between annulment and divorce. While you might have heard of annulment and assumed that it is an alternative to divorce, it is not.
There are many different reasons that married couples in Florida want to end their legal relationships. Indeed, the facts of each case are different, and they have their own nuances and issues that are specific to the parties involved. At the same time, when a person does want to get divorced, there are also similarities between and among cases. Similar to the varied reasons that people choose to end relationships, there are numerous reasons that some couples might prefer to avoid divorce.
For some people, the social stigma attached to divorce is something they want to avoid. For others, their religious beliefs make divorce more difficult, and those couples might want to know whether annulment is an option instead. It is important to know that divorce and annulment are not the same, and couples simply cannot choose between one or the other. In short, annulment is a way of ending an invalid or unlawful marriage, while dissolution of marriage (divorce) is a way of ending a legal marriage.
Reasons for an Annulment in Florida
Annulment is only available to married couples who are in an unlawful or invalid marriage, or a marriage that is prohibited by law. While there is no specific annulment statute in Florida, some of the reasons that a marriage might be annulled include the following:
- Lack of consent: One or both of the parties lacked mental capacity to consent to the marriage, or one or both of the parties was unable to consent due to alcohol intoxication or being under the influence of another substance;
- Lack of parental consent: One or both of the parties was underage at the time of the marriage and did not have parental consent;
- Fraud: One of the parties lied or misrepresented certain facts in order to get the other spouse to consent to the marriage; and
- Duress: One of the parties threatened the other party if she or he would not consent to the marriage.
There are also statutory provisions for marriages prohibited under Florida law, which can also lead to an annulment. Examples of marriage prohibited by law include but are not limited to:
- Parties are closely related to one another; or
- One or both of the parties already was lawfully married to someone else at the time of the marriage (bigamy).
Contact an Orlando Divorce Lawyer
If you need assistance determining whether you should seek to have your marriage annulled or whether you should be filing for divorce, an Orlando divorce attorney can help. Contact Anderson & Ferrin today.