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Understanding the Difference Between Divorce and Annulment

The end of a marriage creates an emotional roller coaster ride like no other event in someone’s life. Property and custody represent the two most important issues to resolve.

A large majority of marriage dissolutions in the state of Texas are divorce cases. Divorce typically is the first thing that comes to mind, whenever couples begin discussing the end of their union. However, in some cases an annulment might be the best option for ending a marriage. Unfortunately, most people have no idea what exactly comprises an annulment. The most effective way to learn about an annulment involves understanding the differences between divorce and annulment.

Seven Legal Grounds for Divorce in Texas

The State of Texas mandates that only seven reasons fall within the state’s legal guidelines for filing a divorce case.

Insupportability-Insupportability is a fancy legal name for “discord or conflict of personalities” that prevents a “reasonable expectation of reconciliation.” In other words, there is no chance of the marriage getting back on track. Insupportability is commonly understood as a “no fault divorce” – in other words, we simply don’t wish to be married any longer and it doesn’t matter why.

Separation-In Texas, couples that live apart for three years, without any cohabitation, qualify for divorce under this ground.

Mental Illness-When one spouse experiences confinement in a mental hospital for three years and possesses a mental illness that “is of such a degree and nature that adjustment is unlikely.”

Cruelty-The interpretation of cruelty leaves a lot of wriggle room for a spouse. This ground for divorce demands the strong evidence.

Abandonment-Texas defines abandonment as one spouse that “has left the divorce filing spouse for at least one year.”

Conviction of a felony and/or adultery, which are exactly what they each sound like, culminate the seven grounds for divorce in Texas. As you can see, divorce grounds in Texas have a strong connection to the state of a marriage. On the other hand, annulment in the state of Texas is a completely different legal term.

Annulment Defined

Simply put, annulment is brought instead of a divorce when there has been some legal impediment to the creation of a legal marriage. In other words, a divorce says “we shouldn’t be married because of something that happened during the marriage” while an annulment says “we should be together because of something that existed prior to or during the marriage ceremony”. A divorce case unfolds on the premise that the marriage was valid but should be dissolved, but an annulment requires evidence that the marriage was never valid.

The Legal Reasons for Annulments in Texas

In the state of Texas, you can receive an annulment for one or more of the following reasons:

  • One of the spouses was underage at the time of the marriage
  • One or both of the spouses were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the marriage
  • If one of the spouses was permanently impotent at the time of the marriage, whether for physical or mental reasons, and the other spouse did not know of it at the time of the marriage
  • The marriage was entered into because one spouse used fraud, duress, or force to induce the other spouse into marriage
  • One of the spouses lacked mental capacity to enter into the marriage
  • One of the spouses was divorced from a third party within 30 days prior to the parties’ marriage
  • The marriage was granted less than 72 hours after the issuance of the marriage license
  • If the spouses are related more closely than first cousins, or
  • Either party was legally married to a third party at the time of the current spouses’ marriage to each other.

In most cases, the law requires that the parties cease to cohabit as soon as knowledge of the annulment grounds become known.

Trying to prove one or more of the grounds for an annulment can provide a challenge for the most skillful of lawyers. However, the main benefit of an annulment might make it worthwhile. With an annulment, both spouses can state they were never married.

Additionally, there may be religious convictions at play in that some religions do not allow for divorce, but annulments are acceptable.

If you are considering filing for a divorce or annulment, contact the Hollwarth Law Firm at (903) 234-0711 to receive a consultation on your options. Our team of experienced attorneys guides you through every step of the legal process.