What Is the Difference Between a Divorce and an Annulment?

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The primary difference between a divorce and an annulment is that a divorce dissolves a legal marriage, while an annulment declares a legal marriage didn’t happen. Both effectively end the legal marital relationship, but the outcome significantly differs. While a divorce dissolves a couple’s marriage, an annulment makes it as though the marriage never existed.

Getting a Divorce in Texas

In Texas, you can choose between a no-fault and fault-based divorce.

A no-fault divorce means neither spouse blames the other for the marriage ending. You must cite one of these grounds as the reason for getting a no-fault divorce:

  • Insupportability – Insupportability means a conflict of personalities or discord makes the marriage insupportable, and neither party has a reasonable expectation of reconciling.
  • Living apart – A no-fault divorce is possible if you and your spouse have lived separately without marital relations for at least three years before filing.

A fault-based divorce involves marital misconduct. You must cite fault-based grounds to file for this type of divorce. These grounds include:

  • Imprisonment for at least one year after a felony conviction
  • Adultery
  • Abandonment for at least one year
  • Persistent and intentional mental or physical cruelty that makes it unbearable to live together
  • Confinement to a psychiatric hospital for at least three years with little to no chance of recovery

Understanding the Annulment Process

what is the difference between a divorce and an annulmentAnnulled marriages fall into two categories – voidable marriage or automatically void marriage. A voidable marriage is a marriage a judge annuls under specific circumstances. A marriage is automatically void if it is illegal in the state.

Some annulment requests may be based on time limit errors. If a concealed divorce causes the marriage to occur before the required thirty-day waiting period, you must file for an annulment within one year of marrying. A request for annulment may not be filed later than the one-year anniversary of the marriage.

A couple must wait 72 hours after getting their marriage license to wed. A person in a marriage that violated the 72-hour waiting period may file an annulment request within 30 days of the wedding ceremony. They cannot request an annulment later than 30 days after the marriage date.

Grounds to Get an Annulment in Texas

You must have grounds whether you annul a voidable or void marriage.

Ground for Annulling a Void Marriage 

A marriage is automatically void if state law prohibits it. These marriages include:

  • Underage marriage – An underage marriage occurs when either spouse marries while under 18, without parental consent, and without court-ordered emancipation.
  • Incestuous marriage – An incestuous marriage is a marriage between family members. Prohibited relationships include siblings, uncles, nieces, descendants, and ancestors. It also includes marriage between a stepparent and a former or current stepchild. These relationships can be either through whole blood, half blood, or adoption.
  • Bigamy or polygamy – Bigamy and polygamy refer to someone in a legal marriage who marries someone else.

Grounds for a Voidable Marriage

Annulling a voidable marriage requires grounds such as:

  • Incapacity to consent to the marriage – You did not consent to the marriage if you or your spouse didn’t have the legal capacity to understand what you were doing by marrying or couldn’t consent to the marriage because of excessive drugs or alcohol in your system.
  • Waiting period violation – A voidable marriage qualifies for an annulment if a couple violates the waiting period. That means you or your spouse weren’t divorced from a previous spouse for at least 31 days before marrying, or your ceremony occurred less than 72 hours after receiving the marriage license.
  • Duress, force, or fraud – If someone forced, coerced, or misled you into the marriage, you have suitable grounds for annulment. The fraud must be a misrepresentation that directly influenced your decision to marry your spouse. For example, lying about wanting to marry someone to start a family and spend their lives together when the goal is to obtain a green card.
  • Impotence – A spouse can apply for an annulment if they didn’t know they married someone permanently unable to have sexual relations for mental or physical reasons.

Get Started with Your Divorce or Annulment Today

You should not pursue a divorce or annulment alone. An experienced family law attorney from BB Law Group PLLC can protect your rights and guide you through the process. We will determine whether you qualify for a divorce or annulment and prepare your case immediately. You can depend on our legal team to handle the matter efficiently and work diligently to achieve your goals.

Call BB Law Group PLLC at (832) 534-2589 for a confidential consultation if you want to get a divorce or an annulment in Texas.