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Annulment vs Divorce

Posted: 14th July 2023

Two wedding bands on a dark table.

Considering where you stand with annulment and divorce can understandably be difficult to address, especially if you are suffering from heartbreak. However, broaching these topics is sometimes necessary when an unforeseen breakup occurs – you need to know where you stand and what options will result in the best outcome for you.

In this post, we’ll be looking at the differences between annulment and divorce, and when each is the appropriate course of action. Our experienced family law solicitors can help guide you on the necessary information you require during this challenging period.

What is the difference between annulment and divorce?

What is an annulment?

An annulment is a process which legally terminates a marriage by claiming it is invalid. An annulment can declare a marriage was never valid if the partners are able to establish that the marriage never should have occurred in the first place.

What is a divorce?

In contrast to annulment, divorce refers to a marriage’s legal dissolution, which can be applied for one year following the date of marriage. This type of process doesn’t actually question the legal legitimacy of the marriage – it only seeks to terminate a lawful marriage. In April 2022, the no-fault divorce bill was introduced in England and Wales, meaning parties no longer have to choose between waiting for two to five years to divorce or alleging adultery or unreasonable behaviour. It also means that, if one party disagrees with the divorce, the other party can still proceed with a sole application.

What are the foundations for getting an annulment?

To apply for annulment, you have to complete a nullity petition that proves your marriage was void or voidable.

  • Void marriage

A void marriage is one which is treated as void from the start – as if it had never occurred. Possible reasons to justify a void marriage include the following:

  1. If you and your partner are closely related
  2. If you or your partner were already married or in a civil partnership with someone else at the time of marriage
  3. If you or your partner were underage at the time of marriage

If you successfully annul your marriage for being void, you will need to keep a legal ‘decree of nullity’ record to prove that your marriage never existed in the eyes of the law. This may be required if you wish to re-marry in the future.

  • Voidable marriage

A voidable marriage is deemed valid but can be annulled for one of the following reasons:

  1. If you and your partner failed to consummate the marriage
  2. If you or your partner had a sexually transmitted disease at the time of marriage
  3. If your partner was pregnant with somebody else’s child at the time of marriage
  4. If you or your partner did not give proper, informed consent at the time of marriage

Is an annulment cheaper than a divorce?

The truth is that, in the annulment vs divorce debate, paying for an annulment will likely cost you more as you may have to prove one of the above reasons. The overall price will depend on how complex the situation is. For example, if you have financial settlements or children to consider, the procedure in both cases will take longer and thus cost more money. Moreover, in both processes, you will need to consider Court fees and the costs of hiring a solicitor.

In such a challenging period of your life, it is crucial to gain the support of an experienced family law solicitor you can depend on. Here at Newtons Solicitors, we concentrate on each of our client’s requirements and offer you complete guidance and support regarding your annulment or divorce. If you would like to discuss your situation with one of our specialist solicitors, please contact us today.