Annulment is an area of family law that is often confusing. There are actually two types of annulment - the legal type recognized by the State of Florida and the religious type recognized by clergy and religious organizations. For the purposes of family law, a civil annulment is what couples will be seeking when they try to obtain an annulment through the court.
Annulment and divorce are also commonly confused, as both are options to change marital status. However, divorce and annulment focus on two very different aspects of the relationship. For example:
- Divorce - Divorce is the process of dissolving a legal marriage. For legal purposes, the individuals having married and divorced, and the legal system will recognize the couple as having been married and divorced.
- Annulment - Annulment is the process of legally declaring that a marriage never, in fact, took place. That is to say that annulments are granted to couples whose marriage is “void” or “voidable” due to a particular set of circumstances.
Obtaining an annulment in Florida is difficult, though not impossible. Couples seeking an annulment will benefit greatly by getting the help of an experienced annulment attorney.
Who Qualifies for an Annulment?
Because Florida law has no special rule or statute that sets out the procedures or legal rights to annulment, the process of annulment is tricky. Additionally, in order to qualify for an annulment in Florida, a judge must understand the facts and reasoning behind the filing for annulment and agree that it is the best course of action. If, after the annulment process is completed, a judge declines to grant the annulment, then the couple will have the option to then file for divorce.
Common circumstances that may qualify for an annulment filing are:
- The marriage was for only a short duration with the intent of aiding in immigration
- The marriage was illegal or fraudulent
- Immediately following the wedding, one spouse disappeared
- The couple has never lived together
- The couple never consummated the marriage
- The couple has been married for seven days or less and do not wish to continue the marriage
- One spouse was legally underage
- One spouse was legally married to another person at the time of the marriage
- The marriage was entered into under duress
- One spouse lacked the legal or mental capacity to understand legal marriage
While these circumstances may qualify some Florida couples for an annulment filing, there is no guarantee that a judge will agree to the filing and grant an annulment.
Another tricky aspect of annulment is the fact that, unlike divorce, it does not offer the couple separating the benefit of having legal guidelines for separating marital assets or determining child custody. A marriage can be declared as never having occurred, but children and assets are quite different. However, if a judge grants an annulment, he or she has the authority to implement plans for custody and visitation, child support, and property division.
Call our law firm to schedule a free consultation and get your annulment questions answered.