Annulment and divorce may seem similar, but they are entirely different. A divorce is a civil proceeding to end a marriage, not to dispute its validity. An annulment seeks to prove that the marriage was not valid to begin with, making it as if it never happened.
The requisites for granting annulment depend on the church or synagogne, but generally include establishing that, when entering the initial marriage, the parties did not fully understand the terms of the contract. This may include things such as psychological unfitness, a misrepresentation of intention, or even an inability to have children. Religious annulments are granted at the discretion of the church or synagogue and are unrelated to the proceedings in domestic relations court.
A civil annulment, like a religious one, will seek to establish that the marriage was not valid to begin with, but unlike a religious annulment, will seek to do so legally under the court legal process. Under Ohio divorce law an annulment may be granted due to a variety of factors including
- Either party was still legally married to another living spouse at the time the union took place
- Either party has been adjudicated mentally incompetent
- The party seeking the annulment was not of legal age to marry when the union took place
- The consent of either party was obtained through fraud or force
- The marriage was never consummated
For the first two grounds, annulment can be sought at any time. For a spouse who was underage at the time of marriage, the action must be filed within two years from the date the spouse reaches the legal age of consent, though the suit could be brought by a parent or guardian at any time between marriage and age of consent. For the last 2 grounds, the Annulment must be filed within two years of the date of marriage. Some of these grounds will require proving that cohabitation did not occur after the marriage took place. Cincinnati divorce attorney John Heilbrun will discuss this with you in more detail during your initial consultation.
Difference Between Annulment and Divorce
Although a civil annulment will mean that legally the marriage never happened, there may be practical aspects of the marriage that must be dealt with. Child custody and child support issues will have to be addressed. Some people are under the mistaken impression that an annulment can protect them from property division, but this is not necessarily the case. Even in a relatively brief marriage, property division will have to occur, but the legal principles are different than those that apply if the parties were getting divorced rather than having their marriage annuled. During your initial consultation, Ohio divorce attorney John Heilbrun can listen to your ultimate desires and help you determine which route will best serve your needs.
For more information on filing for divorce, annulment, or both, please contact the Law Office of John Heilbrun to schedule an initial consultation. Serving Cincinnati, Hyde Park, Blue Ash, Lebanon, and surrounding Ohio communities.