What Is the Difference Between a Divorce & An Annulment?
When a couple chooses to legally end their marriage, there are two ways to accomplish that goal. There is a common misconception that the choice of divorce v. annulment is based on the length of time that the parties were married. However, that is actually not the deciding factor. The law in Georgia states that if the reason for the dissolution of the marriage is one of the legal grounds for divorce, then the parties must pursue a divorce as opposed to an annulment. That means that almost all marriages will end in divorce, not annulment, given the many grounds for divorce set forth by Georgia Law.
There are 13 specific “grounds for divorce” set forth in the statute. The “grounds for divorce” is the reason that the filing party alleges is the cause of the breakup of the marriage. Oftentimes, the other party’s Counterclaim will allege a different grounds for divorce. The 13 options are:
- Intermarriage by persons within the prohibited degrees of consanguinity or affinity;
- Mental incapacity at the time of the marriage;
- Impotence at the time of the marriage;
- Force, menace, duress, or fraud in obtaining the marriage;
- Pregnancy of the wife by a man other than the husband, at the time of the marriage, unknown to the husband;
- Adultery in either of the parties after marriage;
- Willful and continued desertion by either of the parties for the term of one year;
- The conviction of either party for an offense involving moral turpitude, under which he is sentenced to imprisonment in a penal institution for a term of two years or longer;
- Habitual intoxication;
- Cruel treatment;
- Incurable mental illness.(with certain stipulations);
- Habitual drug addiction, which shall consist of addiction to any controlled substance as defined in Article 2 of Chapter 13 of Title 16;
- The marriage is irretrievably broken.
If the reason for the divorce is any of the above reasons, then the marriage is dissolved by divorce, not annulment. As you can see, that doesn’t leave much left to justify an annulment. Usually, an annulment is only granted if one party was legally married to someone else at the time of the marriage, or if there was a legal fraud involved in the enticement of the marriage. So, while annulment is an available remedy, it is extremely rare. Complex legal distinctions like divorce v. annulment are why we always recommend speaking directly with an experienced divorce attorney to make sure you’re choosing the right path.
At Oxendine Law, educating people on all possible alternatives is a big part of our family law services, and our experts take pride in being able to walk our clients through all of their options to best accommodate the specific details of their case. For more information on our family law services or to schedule a consultation, contact Oxendine Law at (770) 497-8688 today. We offer meetings in person, over the phone, or by video conference. And don’t forget to follow along with us on Facebook and Instagram for additional family law news, tips, radio clips, and much more.