What Is The Difference Between Divorce And Annulment?

Annulment and divorce both signal towards the end of a marriage, but they’re also quite different from one another. Here we will explain the differences between them. However, don’t make any big decision before taking advice from a family attorney.

Divorce And Annulment Guide

The Process

First things first, you need to understand that a marriage needs to be legally valid to go through the end, and this is where the first difference lies.

A valid marriage is one that is true in the eyes of the court, so you have a marriage license, witnesses, etc.

An invalid marriage is something that’s done out of the blue, with no decision or planning beforehand, hence it was never truly registered in the record of the law.


For a divorce to take place, the marriage has to be legally valid. If a couple wants to end the marriage, then they will have to go to court and request a divorce application. The first party will address the papers to the other party and then they will meet for the hearings and then finally the divorce is settled and the marriage is ended legally.


Annulment is usually done to end invalid or void marriages. They’re not specifically the end of the marriage, per se, but they’re more likely to be a declaration that the marriage was never valid in the first place. A lot of places around the world can cater to invalid and impromptu marriages, like that in Las Vegas and other cities. So, the annulment declares the marriage null and void. In simple words, it’s not valid to begin with.

The Grounds

The grounds on which a marriage ends, either an annulment or a divorce, are also important to know. If you’re someone who doesn’t know how these things work and what exactly are the grounds for a marriage to end, then this is crucial information.

The grounds are the valid reasons on which a marriage can be ended. You can’t just end a marriage on whim, just because you don’t feel like the connection is there. The grounds need to be solid in order to make the decision as easy and unbiased as possible.


For a divorce, first of all, both parties accept the fact that marriage was valid and that it was their choice. Now, things might have happened along the way, like infidelity, abuse, and other circumstances, that drive the couple to end the marriage for good.


As for an annulment, even though the marriage is legally invalid, it needs to be made sure that one person in the marriage thinks that there was something off about the union to begin with, like tricking someone into marriage, some serious financial issues, allegations, possibly something invalid, etc. and those are the main grounds on which an annulment can be considered in court.

The Time Frame

Some people might think that an annulment can be quicker than a divorce, especially if you can get it done if the marriage just took place recently. However, that’s not the case at all.


A divorce may take anywhere between some months to a year depending on how cooperative the two parties are. That’s not to say that divorces aren’t amicable, but they’re not the most smooth sailing either, at the best of times, so there’s not a set time limit or frame that you can be sure of, as to when the divorce matters will be settled.

However, the longer it takes for a divorce to settle, the more expensive it will get, understandably so. So, if your partner isn’t cooperative, then you might want to gear up on the finances.


An annulment has specific time frame requirements for the process to be valid, in the first place. You can’t just go to a court after a lot of time has passed and say that you want to annul the marriage. That’s not how these things work. Different states have different time requirements, but if the process of annulment is messy, then it will take as much time as a divorce.

The Availability

For a divorce as well as annulment, the presence of both parties is important, with a few exceptions.


For a divorce, there are certain types of divorces in which the other spouse isn’t needed to proceed with the dealings, however, in most cases, having both parties present will make things quicker and easier. Moreover, getting the services of a divorce lawyer Fairfax VA also helps.


For an annulment, as soon as you apply for it, there will be a need for the court to contact the other party, to verify the evidence you provided for the grounds of the annulment to be valid, so it’s also important for the other party to be present.

The Expense

Next comes the expense part of the end of the marriage.


Divorces are really hard to deal with as they are, but add to that a hefty lawyer’s fee and you’ll be far gone. It’s important to know that the longer you stretch the divorce proceedings, the more expensive things will get for both of you. So, it’s better to get done with the divorce as quickly and as amicably as possible, so that no one has to deal with the burden of the finances.

However, in divorces, there is asset division and other aspects like alimony, so the other party will receive a good chunk of money after the separation, that is if the other party willingly agrees to it.


An annulment also isn’t done for free. If you want to make your marriage null and void, then you’ll need a lawyer for that too and you know what that means. However, after an annulment, there won’t be any asset division, since the marriage is legally invalid to begin with, so if someone is trying to take advantage of the other person, then it’s not possible.

Which Option Is Better?

The end of a marriage isn’t something that’s lighthearted and easy to deal with and if there are a lot of people involved in this debacle, then it’s going to be even harder.


A divorce can happen later down the road and if you have children, then that can be hard to go from a unit to a broken family and it’s not easy for the kids either. Then, there’s also child custody involved and a lot of financial struggles along the way. So, to say that a divorce is smooth as butter is anything but the truth.


As for annulment, there can be lots of issues with that as we. Some people can get pressured into marrying if their partner is expecting a child and that’s a responsibility no one can get out of so easily. Then, there might also be other factors like how the marriage was done to begin with.

Either the parties were already married before and there is a ground of bigamy involved. There can also be forced marriages, religious beliefs, and other things that can make the annulment messy, so it is not that easy either.


Annulment and divorce are two completely different things and now you know the key differences between the two. Contact a family lawyer Fairfax VA to proceed with divorce or annulment or get legal advice.

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