Couples marry thinking they will stay together until death does them part. However, many factors could force some spouses to part ways before then. In Texas, separating spouses have the option to file for an annulment or a divorce. Both processes result in the end of the marriage. So, what exactly is the difference between them?
Annulment: what marriage?
When a court grants a petition for annulment, not only does it end the marriage, but it will also hold the marriage invalid. It will be as if the marriage never happened in the first place. Of course, the courts will only allow an annulment under certain circumstances, including the following:
- Either party was a minor when the marriage took place
- Either party had impaired judgment for being under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Either party was not mentally capable to agree to the marriage
- Either party involuntarily entered the marriage due to fraud, threats or violence
- Either party is permanently impotent
- There was concealment of a previous marriage
- The marriage took place less than 72 hours after the marriage license issuance
Moreover, property of division is not available for annulled parties because Texas divides marital properties acquired during the marriage. And if there is no marriage, the property division laws cannot apply.
Divorce: It was there, but it did not last
A divorce order legally ends a marriage, but it acknowledges that the marriage existed and was valid. As a no-fault state, Texas generally allows spouses to file for divorce because of insupportability of the marriage, without having to prove fault against the other party. There are, however, instances when judges consider fault when dividing marital property.
If you are looking to end your marriage but are still determining which process suits your case best, understanding the difference between annulment and divorce can help you identify your next step.