Divorce Vs. Annulment: Which is the Better Alternative in Virginia?

Divorces and annulments have a lot of similarities but also more than a few critical differences. The most significant difference between the two is that a divorce ends a legally valid marital union, whereas an annulment declares a marriage invalid. While every marriage could potentially one day end in divorce, only marriages that meet specific qualifying criteria can be erased with an annulment.

The Commonwealth of Virginia has two types of annulments: void and voidable marriages. A void marriage is known as void ab initio (or ‘void from the beginning’). This type of marriage annulment does not require the typical annulment paperwork or a court’s declaration. A voidable marriage, meanwhile, involves court hearings wherein both sides can argue for why a marriage should or shouldn’t be annulled.

What Are Some of the Benefits of Annulments?

Unlike a divorce, which recognizes a clear beginning and end to a marriage, an annulment declares a marriage null and void. When you go through a divorce, you must go through all the proceedings involving the dissolution of the marriage. For annulments, it is as though the marriage never existed in the first place. The marriage has been erased.

Key advantages to getting an annulment include:

  • Equal sharing of marital debt. You will not be required to pay more than your spouse for any outstanding debts that survive your marriage. An annulment will split any marital debts right down the middle. Any separate debts shall be kept separate.
  • Prenuptial agreements are invalidated. Prenups can feel restrictive to someone trying to get out of a marriage. However, an annulment can invalidate a prenup, as prenups should only apply to divorces and legal separations.
  • The potential to remarry. Like a divorce, an annulment releases you from your voidable marriage and allows you to remarry legally.
  • There is no division of property following an annulment. Unlike a divorce, wherein both parties may have conflict over who owns what and how to divide marital property, an annulment skips that complex step. In an annulment, a judge will usually return all property, assets, and debts to their original owner without further debate.
  • Typically faster than a divorce, especially in the case of void marriages, which do not require lengthy court hearings.
  • Unlike a divorce, which says you had been married but that it ended, an annulment says that you were never legally married.
    With all of this said, annulments have disadvantages, too. Voidable marriages can be challenging to prove in court and could make divorce seem easier. And, unless your marriage was void from the start, you must appear before a judge, which can feel daunting. Whatever you choose to do, it is recommended that you hire matrimonial attorneys in Roanoke, Virginia.

    What Are Common Grounds for Divorce?

    The various grounds for divorce include, but are not exclusive to, the following:

    • Abandonment.
    • Adultery.
    • Buggery.
    • Cruelty and reasonable fear of bodily harm.
    • Felony conviction.
    • Irreconcilable differences.
    • Separation of more than one year or, in cases with no children, have a separation agreement and have been living
    • separately for at least six months.
    • Sodomy.
    • Willful desertion.

What Are Valid Grounds to Have a Marriage Annulled?

Grounds for an annulment in Virginia may include the following:

  • Bigamy.
  • Duress.
  • Fraud.
  • History as a felon or prostitute the other spouse was unaware of.
  • Impotence.
  • Incest.
  • Invalid marriage license.
  • Lack of mental or physical competence.
  • One spouse was under age 18 at the time of the marriage.
  • Polygamy.
  • The individual who performed the marriage did not have legal authority.
  • The husband had fathered a child within ten months of the marriage, and the new wife was unaware.
  • The wife was pregnant with another man’s child at the time of the marriage, and the new husband was unaware.

Schedule an In-Depth Case Evaluation with Our Law Firm Today

Annulment has clear advantages over divorce in some ways. However, an annulment is not possible for every marriage. To ensure your case qualifies for an annulment, please contact our Roanoke-based law firm to speak with a member of our experienced legal team.

The Law Office of Seth C. Weston has years of experience helping clients with divorce and annulment. Schedule your initial consultation by calling (540)-384-4585.