The Difference Between Annulment & Divorce

In News by YKF Law

When you make the difficult decision to split from your spouse, there are options when it comes to legally ending the marriage. Annulment and divorce are your two options to end a marriage. While both will legally dissolve a relationship, they differ greatly from one another.

If you’ve been contemplating between annulment and divorce and aren’t sure which option is best for you, continue reading. The experts at The Law Office of Young, Kuhl & Frick, LLC want to help you understand the differences between annulment and divorce so you can determine which is best for your situation.

Annulment vs. Divorce

Annulment is when a marriage is declared as being invalid due to a defect whereas a divorce legally dissolves a valid marriage. So, if both legally end a marriage, what’s the difference between the two?

When a couple gets divorced, their marriage will still be recorded, stating that they were previously married. When annulment occurs, it’s essentially a way to say that the couple’s marriage never even existed. While the marriage will be seen as invalid once the annulment is granted by the court, an annulment will still leave a paper trail since court filings are public records. Marriage licenses and all other filings related to the marriage will still be made available to the public.

What is Involved in an Annulment?

Annulments are a way of saying a marriage never happened, almost absolving it completely from your history, whereas a divorce is the result of a marriage that has been legally terminated. When a couple decides to annul their marriage, there are two categories: those that are void and those that are voidable.

When a marriage is void, it’s treated as though it never happened. How is it possible to essentially delete an entire relationship that was once legal? Surprisingly, a void marriage can be the result of a marriage that was never legal from the start. Void marriages are generally those where the marriage was between related persons or a bigamous marriage (where one spouse was already married at the time they entered into another marriage) and other marriages may be void by statute.

A marriage is voidable when it’s considered valid until a judgment is entered annulling the marriage. Unlike a void marriage, a voidable marriage is generally one where the marriage was between two parties where one wasn’t of the age of consent, lack of capacity or consent was involved, diseases occurred, or there was some sort of fraudulent inducement or force.

Do Missouri & Kansas Grant Annulments?

Both Missouri and Kansas do grant annulments, however, they are rare.  As previously mentioned, marriages can become voidable if any of the following have occurred:

  • Fraud
  • Mistake of fact
  • One of the parties is mentally incapacitated
  • One party is of insufficient age

Although Missouri and Kansas do grant annulments in certain situations, the courts require significant proof that the marriage is in fact fraudulent or voidable. Otherwise, the court will not grant the annulment.

What Are the Effects of an Annulment?

While an annulment is a potential option for marriages that are void or voidable, it can have major effects on those involved. Not only can it affect the individual parties who filed for annulment, but it can affect children conceived while the marriage existed as well as having an effect on spousal maintenance and property rights.

When a couple who have children get divorced, custody and child support are two components that are discussed in the courtroom. But what happens when a couple annuls their marriage even though they conceived a child during their marriage when it was valid? To address custody and support of such a child, additional actions would need to be filed, such as a Paternity action where child support and child custody can be addressed.

Spousal maintenance will not be granted if a marriage is annulled in Missouri. On the contrary, spousal maintenance may be ordered by a judge in the state of Kansas but only temporarily.

Property distribution would also need to be addressed in a separate motion during an annulment, such as a partition action.

If you’re considering an annulment and are looking for a Lee’s Summit divorce attorney or a divorce attorney in Kansas City, contact The Law Office of Young, Kuhl & Frick, LLC. With over fifty-three years of combined legal experience, our family law firm is comprised of a team that’s skilled in both negotiation and litigation, handling family law matters from the most complex to the most straightforward.

We have offices in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, and Leawood, Kansas (consultations by appointment only). In addition to our two physical locations, our firm’s family and divorce attorneys have practiced in Jackson, Clay, Cass, Lafayette, and Platte County, Missouri as well as Johnson County, Kansas.