Annulment vs. Divorce

When comparing annulment vs. divorce, many individuals assume that an annulment is the easiest route to take and that a divorce will come with unwanted complications. Frequently, the exact opposite is true. When you work with an experienced family law attorney, a divorce can be a simpler solution with fewer situational requirements and time limits, posing fewer stresses during a difficult period in your life. To learn more, explore the differences between annulment vs. divorce with Conniff Law Offices of Chicago and Oak Park, below.

What is an Annulment? 

In Illinois, an annulment is “a declaration of invalidity of marriage.” A court order would say that the marriage is not valid and should not be recognized by the state as such. There are strict requirements that must be met when asking a court for a judgment of invalidity, which is what makes an annulment often more complicated than a divorce. Those requirements include:

  • If there is an issue of mental incapacity, intoxication, force, duress, or fraud that made the marriage invalid, the petition for a judgment of invalidity must be filed within 90 days of the petitioner becoming aware of the problem.
  • If there is an issue of physical incapacity with one of the spouses, the petition for a judgment of invalidity must be filed within one year of the petitioner learning about the incapacity.
  • If there is an issue of one spouse being under the age of 18 at the time of the marriage without a consenting parent or guardian, then the parent or guardian of the underage spouse must be the one to file for a judgment of invalidity, and it must be done before the individual reaches the age of 18.

What is a Divorce?

While an annulment is a court order that determines a marriage to be invalid, a divorce is a legal proceeding that ends a valid marriage – meaning that while you will no longer be legally bound to your ex-spouse and can remarry at any time, the marriage is still legally considered to have existed before your divorce. There are several benefits to choosing divorce over an annulment, including:

  • Fewer Requirements – As we highlighted above, annulments come with strict requirements and time limits that must be met in order to file for a judgment of invalidity. In a divorce, an individual can simply file for either a no-fault or fault-based divorce to start the process, so long as you and your spouse have lived in Illinois for 90 days.
  • Proof of Fault – Annulments require proof of fault for the marriage to be judged as invalid, while an individual could file for a no-fault divorce and not have to provide any proof of fault. 
  • Spousal Support Payments – Spousal support payments (or alimony payments), as well as the division of assets, must be determined by a court in a divorce. Additionally, any valid and enforceable pre-nuptial agreement or post-nuptial agreements must be upheld in a divorce. In an annulment, however, financial issues are essentially returned to the way they were prior to the marriage, which can be a significant setback for some individuals.

Discuss Your Options With a Divorce Attorney

When comparing annulment vs. divorce, some individuals find that divorce is a favorable method to pursue, offering fewer complexities and less stress throughout the process. If you are seeking the representation of an experienced divorce lawyer in Chicago or Oak Park, reach out to Conniff Law Offices today. Our team of attorneys consists of compassionate individuals who are dedicated to helping you through this difficult time in your life. Contact us today to learn more about the family law services we offer and schedule a consultation.

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