Most couples who get an annulment have been married a very short time and an annulment restores their prior marital status. In the eyes of the law, the annulled marriage never happened, in contrast to a divorce, which ends the marriage.
However, before deciding on annulment, know how it will affect other areas of your life, mainly your children and property. When you are fully informed, you're in the best position possible to make the right decision for your case.
Annulment and Your Children
Annulment generally doesn't change the legitimacy of your children. Children born during a marriage are legitimate. Divorce doesn't change this status, and neither does annulment. This is so even if the annulment is due to a reason such as bigamy or incest.
In an annulment case, a court still has to decide issues related to a couple's children, namely custody and child support issues. Your duties as a parent are separate from your marital status.
When a couple has children, an annulment can be more complex and take longer compared to cases where child-related issues aren't present. Some states may require confirmation of a child's parentage.
Annulment and Property Issues
Generally an annulment returns spouses to the status they had before the marriage. For example, if you owned a house before the marriage, after the annulment you will still own it alone. Your former spouse will likely have no legal rights to it.
However, know that annulment erases the legal protections offered to spouses as it applies to property. Inheritance rights are lost, because you lose status as a spouse. While there are some exceptions, alimony isn't awarded in an annulment.
Property issues are likely minimal because most annulments involve short marriages. It's likely that a couple hasn't acquired much property together. Many states' laws do recognize that couples can have complex property issues, especially in longer marriages. In these cases, a court may have the power to decide property and debt division issues.
Ending a marriage, no matter the method, isn't easy. You can make the best of this difficult time in your life by getting help from your divorce attorney. You'll gain confidence in your choices as you move onto the next stage in your life.
Questions for Your Attorney
- Does an annulment mean that all related legal documents must be changed? How about documents for my children, such as their birth certificates?
- Does our state's laws allow for alimony in annulment cases?
- Given my issues related to property and children, which is better for me, divorce or annulment?