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The difference between divorce and annulment

When someone wants to leave his or her partner, divorce will be the first option to come to mind. Everyone has heard of divorce, but annulment may also be a possibility when a married couple wants to separate. There may be circumstances where it would be more beneficial to pursue an annulment.

Although they both consist of the couple leaving each other, there are some key differences from a legal standpoint. Here are the differences a couple needs to know about to make an informed decision. 

Circumstances for filing for divorce and annulment

In Virginia, a couple can file for a no-fault divorce. They must live separately for at least 12 months before filing to do so, but they can divorce without any one side directly causing the separation.

In this state, there are only a few circumstances by which a couple can file for an annulment. In Virginia, grounds for annulment include fraud, duress, insanity, force, being underage, impotency and polygamy. Additionally, a couple cannot file for an annulment if the marriage has already lasted at least two years. Ultimately, an annulment boils down to one party not fully consenting to the marriage in the first place. An annulment is also made more difficult if one spouse learned of information that would qualify for separation but continued to live with the spouse. 

Division of assets

In a divorce, the couple will need to go to court to determine certain matters, such as alimony and property division. In an annulment, the court treats the marriage as if it had never existed. That means neither spouse can qualify for alimony. However, in the event the couple has any children together, then they will still need to decide upon child custody and support as they would in a divorce. Children still have entitlements to receive support from both parents even if they only live with one. 

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Madigan and Scott, Inc.
7880 Backlick Road
Suite 2
Springfield, VA 22150

Phone: 703-455-1800
Fax: 703-451-4121
Springfield Family Law Office