A divorce is a legal dissolution of a marriage, and often involves the division of assets and the resolution of other major issues based on the laws of the state where a couple filed for divorce.
But there is another legal action that also ends a marriage, known as an annulment. The major difference between a divorce and an annulment is that after a couple obtains an annulment, the law considers the marriage to have never taken place.
In other words, instead of dissolving a marriage, an annulment eliminates it altogether from the public record.
How Do Couples Obtain An Annulment In Florida?
In Florida, a couple that seeks an annulment must either show that the marriage was invalid from the time the marriage began or became invalid during the course of the marriage.
Situations that could lead to an annulment include:
- A couple is related by blood or one spouse has multiple marriages.
- A spouse suffers from mental health problems that made it impossible for him or her to consent to the marriage.
- One spouse was impaired by drugs or alcohol during the marriage ceremony and was unable to make a reasonable decision about participating in the ceremony.
- A spouse was compelled to marry under false pretenses or through an act of fraud by the other spouse.
- A spouse agreed to the marriage as a joke and never intended to be in a legally sanctioned relationship.
- One or both members of the marriage were coerced to marry.
- A spouse was impotent and never disclosed this impotence to the other spouse until after the marriage ceremony.
- The couple did not have parental consent to marry, which is required if both spouses are under the legal age of consent, which is 18 in most states.
One important thing to remember is that there are no grounds for annulment if a spouse claims that he or she was incapacitated during the wedding ceremony, but later consents to a sexual relationship with the other person.
Married couples in Florida who want an annulment must file legal documents in a family court explaining why they want the marriage annulled.
The state places the burden of proof on the spouse who is filing for an annulment, which means that this person must present evidence that supports the claim.
If a couple obtains an annulment, a judge can still make decisions about timesharing agreements, child support, and spousal maintenance.
Hire An Experienced Lawyer
If you choose to pursue an annulment instead of a divorce, the Law Office of Eric C. Cheshire has over 30 years of experience with these types of cases. We can help you understand the standards necessary to obtain an annulment, and whether this is your best course of action as it relates to major issues such as division of assets, spousal maintenance, and any agreements involving children. Please call us today at (561) 677-8090 and take advantage of our knowledge and expertise with a confidential consultation.