Unhappy Marriage? Divorce or Annulment – When is there a choice?

Monday, November 19, 2018

Written by Norman A. Green

Categories: Divorce Family Law

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Unhappy Marriage? Divorce or Annulment - When is there a choice?

Unhappy Marriage? Divorce or Annulment – When is there a choice?

Traditionally, spouses who found themselves in an unhappy marriage only considered two options – stick it out in a life of misery or get a divorce and be branded a marital failure. However, there is another option in limited circumstances, an annulment, which is like a legal asterisk that indicates a marriage did in fact take place, but is now invalid and void.

“An annulment is an option for marriages that entered into as a result of fraud, coercion, mental incapacity or other statutorily prohibited situations,” said Norman Green, Senior Partner at Green & Metcalf of Vero Beach, FL. “Marriages that qualify for annulment are either void or voidable by their very nature.”

Although becoming more commonplace, Florida does not have a statute addressing annulment. Instead, it is based upon common law, Court decisions, allowing for it. Rather than ending a marriage, as in divorce, annulment actually voids the marriage, as if it never existed. An annulment completely voids the record of a marriage, and declares that, “the marriage license never should have been legally recognized and any wedding held under that license should be declared invalid.” As such, it appears to turn back the clock to a time before the marriage occurred.

Even with valid grounds for annulment, in cases with extensive property or with children, the Court may grant a divorce instead of an annulment, in order to fairly distribute property, or to protect the rights of the children.

“The choice of a divorce or annulment should be made based on many factors, including the reason you and your spouse are separating. There are pros and cons for choosing one option over the other, including state-by-state guidelines, all of which an experienced divorce attorney can explain to their clients,” Green said.

Norman A. Green is the founder and a partner of Green, Metcalf & Lazan, P. A. He has over 40 years of experience in the practice fields of criminal defense and family law (divorce, child custody, child support, paternity, modifications of existing orders, prenuptial agreements and alimony cases).

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