Annulment vs Divorce

Annulment vs divorce? Two ways to end a marriage, with some differences.  I always thought that annulment was done by the church.  Annulment is a legal process too.

Annulment vs Divorce

First a look at what the Roman Catholic Church has to say about annulment.

"A Catholic marriage can be annulled, the church says, if a tribunal investigation determines the union lacked at least one of five essential elements before vows were exchanged.

According to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, those five elements of a valid marriage are:

The spouses were free to marry; they freely exchanged their consent; they intended to marry for life, be faithful and be open to children; they intended "good of each other," and their consent was given in the presence of witnesses before an authorized church official."  Some other criterion not mentioned above are the partners are not related to each other, or there was non-disclosure of impotence, disease,  a marriage that was not annulled, which could be called bigamy, I guess.

An annulment is sought in the church typically so that a Roman Catholic can remarry in the church, or perhaps continue to receive the Sacrament of Communion.  It requires a tribunal ruling that one of the elements mentioned above was missing at the time of consent, so the marriage is a nullity and the original marriage contract is voided, so technically you are unmarried now.

An annulment in a court of law could be chosen as a way to end the marriage if divorce is not an option, or to avoid the stigma of divorce.  

Annulment vs Divorce Legal Proceedings

Divorce on the other hand is a legal proceeding only. 

One must meet the residency requirements of the state  in which one seeks either an annulment or a divorce.

In my county, we had to file, papers were served, we attended mediation, to work out a property, custody, support,  and visitation agreement,  and a parenting after divorce class, before we went before the judge to sign the final paperwork.

An annulment does not impact parental rights, inheritance, custody, maintenance, child support, or alimony, or any other aspect of family life.  However, those issues must be settled before there is any annulment or divorce. 

I believe the paperwork process is not very different for an annulment vs divorce.  The same issues need to be decided.

In my divorce, either of us could have filed motions to argue various points of contention, which would have cost more money, and probably left us more bitter and angry without changing the outcome in any demonstrable way.

I am fee to remarry as a divorced man, and I guess I could say I am single, which is what those whose marriage was annulled can call themselves.

If you are aware of any other distinctions between an annulment and a divorce, would you please mention them in the comments box below? Thanks.

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