If the time comes to end a marriage or domestic partnership in the state of Texas, there are two options: Either a divorce or an annulment. Both accomplish the same general goal, to bring an end to the partnership. But there are many significant differences between a divorce and an annulment.
As a big-picture explanation, a divorce is an agreement that a marriage once existed but now needs to end, while an annulment is a declaration that a marriage never legally existed in the first place.
Getting a divorce vs. getting an annulment
The reason for getting an annulment, also known as ‘grounds’, is different than grounds for divorce. In effect, in order to get an annulment, you must demonstrate that there was some pre-existing problem previous to entering into the marriage. While with a divorce, the grounds can be less strict.
In fact, every state in the US (including Texas) allows for a ‘no fault’ divorce, in which case neither side needs to prove anything in order to be granted the divorce. Very frequently, couples will cite Irreconcilable Differences as the grounds.
In contrast, an annulment must meet a far higher standard of proof in order for the court to grant it. Some examples are:
- One member of the union was married at the time of the second marriage.
- At least one (or both) of the members weren’t legally of age.
- One member had concealed serious information from their partner, such as criminal background, previous children, a severe illness, or something similar.
- The marriage turns out to be incestuous.
- One of the members was unable to have consented to the marriage.
One very important difference between a divorce and an annulment is that an annulment usually doesn’t result in any financial obligations. Divorce judgments often come with alimony payments, but an annulment never will. With an annulment, the members’ finances return to the state they were in before the marriage.
In most cases, a divorce is an appropriate resolution to a broken marriage. But it’s useful to understand the circumstances when an annulment is the correct choice.