A divorce isn’t always what a married couple needs. Sometimes, an annulment is enough. An annulment differs from divorce, because it makes it appear like you were never married, not just that your marriage ended. An annulment is used to show that your marriage was not legal and therefore, was not binding.

There are several reasons you could need an annulment. For instance, you can’t get married to two people, so if you were previously married when you got married a second time, the result would be an illegal (and invalid) marriage. Incestuous marriages are also illegal.

Other potentially invalid marriages include those that take place before the age of 18 without appropriate consent, those that take place between people with an unsound mind and fraudulent marriages. Unsound minds are those who have no ability to understand the nature of a marriage or its obligations. Fraudulent marriages are those that are used to help the individuals in some way but not for the purposes of a real marriage. For instance, if someone from another country gets married to an American only for a chance at citizenship, the marriage could be considered fraudulent.

Being unable to consummate a marriage is another possible reason to seek an annulment. The same is true if you were forced into a marriage against your will.

Annulments happen more frequently than you might think. If you meet any of the requirements, then you may be able to pursue an annulment instead of a divorce, which could change how you divide assets or move forward once you’re separated.

Source: California Judicial Branch, “Annulment,” accessed Dec. 06, 2017

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