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The differences between an annulment and a divorce

Some New York couples who are ending their marriages might qualify for an annulment and not even realize it. In short, a valid marriage is dissolved by a divorce, while an invalid one is erased by an annulment. An annulment basically makes the marriage contract null and void. Therefore, a marriage that has been declared invalid never existed legally, so neither party can rightfully say he or she was formerly married or has an ex-spouse.

A common misconception about annulments is that they end a marriage that was either short-lived or even entered into impulsively. Although it is true that an individual must act quickly in order to declare that his or her marriage is invalid, there is a little more to it than just timing. There are four main grounds to qualify for annulment and, thus, render the marriage contract null and void. 

In some instances, an individual did not have the legal capacity to consent to the marriage. Other individuals will defraud or somehow coerce the other party into marriage. One party might discover after the nuptials that the other person does not have the physical capacity to consummate the marriage. Lastly, the marriage could simply be illegal.

Whether a New York couple qualifies for a divorce or an annulment is determined by the circumstances surrounding their marriage. Anyone who believes that his or her marriage is invalid would benefit from consulting with an experienced divorce attorney who can review the situation and determine whether a divorce or annulment is appropriate. Regardless, ending a marriage can be legally complex, and it would be prudent to enlist help in getting through the process.

Source: news-gazette.com, "Annulment and divorce", John Roska, July 24, 2016

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