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What’s the difference between annulment and divorce?

On Behalf of | Aug 11, 2023 | Divorce |

When it comes to the dissolution of a marriage, it’s wise to understand the difference between an annulment and a divorce. Both are processes that legally end a marriage, but they have distinct characteristics and implications.

Divorce is the legal process of terminating a valid marriage. On the other hand, an annulment is a legal declaration that renders a marriage null and void, as if it never legally existed. An annulment is relatively rare and requires specific circumstances to be met.

Grounds for annulment

Under Pennsylvania law, an annulment may be granted if one spouse proves the marriage was founded on fraudulent or misrepresented information. This could include lying about one’s identity, intentions or concealing important facts that could have affected the decision to marry.

Additionally, if one party is already legally married to someone else at the time of the second marriage, the subsequent marriage can be annulled on the grounds of bigamy. An annulment can also be granted for marriages between blood relatives, such as siblings or parents and children. If one of the parties could not provide informed consent at the time of marriage due to intoxication, mental incapacity or other factors, the marriage may also be deemed invalid.

Grounds for divorce

Pennsylvania recognizes both no-fault and fault-based divorce. A no-fault divorce is the most prevalent type. It does not require any specific reason other than the marriage being irretrievably broken. Both parties agree to the divorce, and there is no need to prove wrongdoing or fault.

On the other hand, a fault-based divorce is less common and requires one spouse to prove that the other was at fault for the marriage’s breakdown. Grounds for fault-based divorce include adultery, cruelty, desertion and imprisonment.

Whether you’re considering an annulment, divorce or aren’t sure which best applies to your situation, it’s important to have experienced legal guidance. This can help you protect your rights and your future.