What’s the difference between a divorce and an annulment?

On Behalf of | Mar 29, 2022 | Family Law |

Residents of Spokane, Washington who want to end their marriage often immediately think of divorce. However, an annulment might be an option as well. It’s important to understand how they differ.

What are the main differences between divorce and annulment?

Although Washington is a no-fault divorce state, it’s still helpful to know the differences between divorce and legal annulment. A divorce is a process that allows you to end your marriage through the court or by alternative means such as mediation, arbitration or collaborative divorce. When you get a divorce, your marriage has been recognized in the eyes of the law.

By contrast, when you seek an annulment, it negates the marriage, making it as if it never existed. However, there must be a legal justification for seeking an annulment.

What are the legal justifications for an annulment?

There are several legal justifications for an annulment. They include the following:

  • One person was already married at the time, causing them to commit bigamy at the time the marriage took place.
  • One party was under the legal age to get married.
  • One spouse was impotent and unable to consummate the marriage, unknown to the other.
  • The wedding took place on the spur of the moment and the parties weren’t thinking clearly.
  • Both spouses were intoxicated during the time of the marriage.
  • Incest occurred as the parties realized after the marriage that they were actually close blood relatives.
  • One party defrauded the other.

There are additional justifications for annulling a marriage, but these are a few of the most common examples.

Couples who agree to end their marriage can also agree to do so either through a divorce or annulment. However, it’s necessary to meet the criteria for an annulment if that’s the option they prefer.