In Florida, there are two main ways of ending a marriage — divorce and annulment. But, while both a divorce and an annulment can end a marriage, the two processes are very different. Therefore, it is crucial for those seeking to end their marriage to understand the difference between divorce and annulment to know which option is suitable for them.
Difference Between Divorce and Annulment
In a divorce, the court ends a marriage that once legally existed. In contrast, in an annulment, the court ends a marriage that never legally existed. So, an annulment does not just end a marriage the way a divorce does; it also treats a marriage as if it never existed.
Who is Eligible for Annulment in Florida?
In Florida, only void and voidable marriages can be annulled. While the terms “void” and “voidable” might seem the same, there is a huge difference between the two terms. A marriage is considered void if it was invalid from the very start. On the other hand, a voidable marriage is one that might not have been invalid from the beginning but still has the potential to be invalid. Generally, all void marriages can be annulled, but not all voidable marriages can be.
Void marriages in Florida include marriages that involve:
- Underage partners
- Mental incapacitation
Voidable marriages in Florida include marriages that involve:
- Fraud or misrepresentation
- Temporary mental incapacitation. For example, if a spouse was intoxicated during the time of the wedding.
- Impotence. However, the longer a marriage lasts, the more challenging it becomes to use impotence as a reason to get an annulment.
- One underage spouse who entered a marriage without the consent of a parent or guardian
- Individuals who got married as a joke
Obtaining an Annulment in Florida
Whether your marriage is void or voidable, for it to be considered annulled, you need a court order. So, how do you get this court order? First of all, you will need to file a petition to annul your marriage. In your petition, you need to outline why you should be granted an annulment. Generally, you need to assert one or more than one of the reasons mentioned above as a basis for your annulment request. Once you file your petition, you will need to serve the petition to your spouse. Suppose your spouse disagrees with your claims. In such a case, they can submit a counterclaim. If your spouse’s counterclaim is successful, you will most likely need to get a divorce instead of an annulment. However, if your spouse’s counterclaim is unsuccessful and the court determines that your marriage is indeed invalid, you will be granted an annulment, and it will be as if your marriage never existed.
It is crucial for spouses to note that if an annulment is granted, there will be no marital assets division, mainly because of the non-existent nature of the marriage. In annulment cases, alimony is also only granted in rare circumstances. However, the court must still decide on child custody/timesharing, visitation rights, and child support, even if you get an annulment.
Contact Us for Legal Help
If you need help determining whether to file for a divorce or an annulment, contact one of our divorce attorneys for help. Contact Tampa Bay Legal Center, P.A., at (813) 341-3333 today to schedule a consultation.