And in this series, we’re talking about the three questions I am asked most frequently as well as the four questions that people should be asking when they sit down with an attorney.
Right now, we are on question number two, and the question number two is: What is the difference between a divorce and an annulment? Frequently when people contact my office, I first ask questions about whether or not they can get an annulment because there is a perception that an annulment is better than a divorce. And in some respects it can be usually for religious reasons but the difference between a divorce and an annulment has to do with what it is the court is actually decide.
In the case of the divorce, the court is ruling that a valid marriage is going to be dissolved and the parties are going to be treated as though they’re no longer bound by the bonds of marriage, so that’s a divorce.
An annulment by contrast is a determination by the court that a divorce isn’t necessary because the marriage itself never actually existed. In other words, it was void right from the beginning. And some of the grounds for that. We talked about a little bit in our first video because they can be both ground for divorce or an annulment and the best example would be a marriage that is procured through fraud upon one of the parties. In that case, fraud, as a general rule, is a defense is a case that involved a contract and marriage is treated by the law as a contract between the two parties. So that can actually be one of the grounds to assert for an annulment if that’s what it is we’re choosing to seek.
As a practical matter, it is interesting to note that Georgia, like virtually all other states does not favor annulments. And the court is going to view a request for annulments with a very skeptical eye. And there are reasons for that and there are actually even circumstances where you keep getting even if you otherwise qualify. And the example of that is if children were born during the course of the period of time that the party’s thought they were married even if it turns that that marriage was void for some technical reason or procure to fraud, etc., thus State of Georgia is not going to allow that to be treated as an annulment. They’re going to require that you go through the divorce process. So that is some of the difference, there are many more differences between a divorce and an annulment but the big overarching one has to do with what it was that the court is deciding that is, are we dissolving, in otherwise valid marriage or we making a declaration that no marriage ever actually existed.