What Are the Benefits of a Civil Annulment?

By Beverly Bird

Obtaining an annulment is often a difficult legal process. It rules that your marriage was never legally valid, effectively erasing it. To achieve this, you must prove exacting grounds, and if your spouse successfully contests them or the court feels that you haven't met your burden of proof, you'll have to start over and file for divorce instead. However, an annulment might still be the better option for you for personal reasons.

Obtaining an annulment is often a difficult legal process. It rules that your marriage was never legally valid, effectively erasing it. To achieve this, you must prove exacting grounds, and if your spouse successfully contests them or the court feels that you haven't met your burden of proof, you'll have to start over and file for divorce instead. However, an annulment might still be the better option for you for personal reasons.

Reinstating Previous Benefits

If you lost certain benefits when you married, you can sometimes reclaim them if you obtain an annulment instead of a divorce. This may be possible, for example, if you have been married before and you were receiving alimony, but your decree or the law in your state provides that alimony stops if you remarry. If your second marriage never existed by law, you may be able to revive your alimony claim. Eligibility for certain federal benefits also end upon remarriage, such as your ability to collect Social Security on your first spouse's work record. If your second marriage never legally happened, you may still be eligible.

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Procedural Considerations

Some states waive their statutory residency requirements for divorce when you file for annulment instead. Others, like Michigan, also have divorce waiting periods, so a decree cannot be granted until a certain period of time passes from the date you file your complaint or petition for divorce. An annulment can sometimes avoid this requirement as well.

Financial Issues

One of the major benefits of an annulment is the way it treats the financial issues of your marriage. When it comes to property division in anullments, courts often try to restore each spouse to the financial condition they were in at the time the marriage began. Your premarital property is more likely to remain separate, not subject to division as it might be in a divorce action if it appreciated in value or you commingled it with marital money. Additionally, many states will not award alimony or spousal support after an annulment.

Psychological Benefits

Some benefits of an annulment are intangible. After an annulment, you can literally state that your marriage never happened. Technically, if you meet someone new and he asks if you were ever married before, you can say no without lying. Depending on your faith, religious reasons might also come into play. If nothing else, annulling your marriage might help you to put the mistake behind you more easily and move forward.

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New Jersey Guidelines for Annulment

References

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Annulled Vs. Divorced

Spouses involved in unhappy or intolerable marriages often wish they could turn back time and undo their mistakes. In some cases, they can. All 50 states allow spouses to annul a marriage under some circumstances. A decree of annulment means the marriage never occurred. Comparatively, a divorce decree ends a marriage that legally existed.

Maryland Law Concerning Annulments

Divorce laws can be complicated and difficult to understand, but annulment laws are often even worse. This is especially true in Maryland. A marriage is only annullable if certain circumstances existed before your marriage, or at the time you married, that means you couldn’t or shouldn’t have wed. Depending on what that circumstance was, sometimes Maryland doesn’t even require you to take legal action to undo your mistake.

Difference Between a Marriage Annulment & a Divorce in California

Annulment has a reputation for being a quick and easy way to end your marriage if you wake up the next morning realizing that you made a big mistake. In reality, annulment in California has nothing to do with how long you were married. It has to do with whether certain criteria were in place to make your marriage a legal union. If the answer is no, you were never technically married in the first place and you can get an annulment. If the answer is yes, you must file for divorce instead.

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