Should I Get a Divorce or an Annulment in Virginia

Deciding to end a marriage is never an easy decision. When the time comes to part ways, emotions can take over, and making decisions can seem overwhelming. In some instances, people may wish that the marriage had never happened in the first place. That’s typically when words like annulment start being tossed around.

While an annulment has the function of making a marriage disappear rather than merely terminating it, it’s important to understand that annulments are only available in specific, limited circumstances. An experienced divorce attorney can help you examine your options and determine whether an annulment is right for you.

The Difference Between Divorce and Annulment

Some people think of divorce and annulment as being interchangeable; in reality, however, they are very different things. Divorce is the termination of a legally valid marriage. Annulment, on the other hand, declares that the marriage was never valid to begin with and treats it as though it never existed.

Any married person can file for divorce. Annulment, however, is available only in very specific circumstances. Unlike a divorce, an annulment in Virginia can be very hard to get, as most couples do not meet the narrow conditions required.

When Is Annulment an Option?

Annulment is available for marriages that are declared void or voidable. A marriage can be deemed void if:

  • It is incestuous;
  • One spouse was under 18 at the time of the marriage;
  • One spouse was married to someone else at the time of the marriage

A marriage can be deemed voidable if:

  • One spouse defrauded the other into getting married;
  • One spouse entered the marriage under duress, coercion, or threat;
  • One spouse was a convicted felon, a current or former prostitute, or impotent and the other spouse didn’t know;
  • One spouse was mentally incompetent to consent to the marriage;
  • A wife was pregnant with another person’s child at the time of the wedding and her spouse didn’t know;
  • A husband fathered a child with another woman within 10 months of the wedding;
  • The marriage was a sham, such as in the instance where a couple gets married solely for immigration purposes

In the case of fraud, many lies do not rise to the level of justifying an annulment. To grant an annulment, the court must believe that the fraud was so egregious that the marriage would never have happened without it – lies relating to issues like wealth, age, health, or marital history typically will not be enough.

Another important factor to consider when deciding whether or not to pursue an annulment is division of property. Because annulment treats a marriage as if it had never existed, the Virginia courts have no power to divide property or order spousal support.

How an Experienced Virginia Divorce Attorney Can Help

Ending a marriage can be tricky business. While the thought of filing for an annulment may seem tempting, the grounds for annulling a marriage in Virginia are very narrow, and annulments are difficult to obtain.

The experienced divorce attorneys at Select Law Partners are well versed in Virginia divorce law, and are here to guide you every step of the way. We will review your circumstances and help you determine whether an annulment is an option. Contact us today to discuss your situation and decide what course of action is right for you.

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Matt Kurylo

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