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Annulment vs. Divorce – What Is The Difference?

By Nottage and Ward on November 12, 2014

While the two words are often used interchangeably, divorce and annulments are two radically different actions that take place in family law. The confusion stems from improper usage in the media, to religious entities using the phrasing in a completely different context. In Illinois, what is commonly referred to as annulment is legally referred to as an action for Declaration of Invalidity of Marriage. In both instances, the end result is a complete separation in the eyes of the court. But annulment takes the idea a step further, declaring that the marriage was never valid to begin with – thus nullifying its existence from the very start. In the state of Illinois a successful annulment is actually known as a “judgment of invalidity.”

When Would An Annulment Occur?

So, if a divorce covers legal unions and annulment tackles what is perceived as an illegitimate marriage – what are some instances that annulment would even be an option? How can a marriage be considered null and void from the start?

Each circumstance requires a certain illegality to the union in one-way or another, essentially creating a conflict of interest between state law and the relationship. While they are rare, these examples have, and still can, occur:

Under The Influence: If one or both parties are disabled at the time of the union, an annulment may be a valid option. This can happen in any number of ways, all of which involve drugs, alcohol or anything that could impair the immediate judgment of the person getting married. The “influence” could also be that of another person as well; if the union is a result of someone being bullied, coerced or threatened it could be considered invalid under Illinois state law.

Under The Age: If one or both of the parties involved are under the age of 18, and did not receive the express consent of a parental guardian or judge, an annulment can be given.

Relatives: Immediate family members who engage in an incestuous relationship are most certainly eligible for an annulment. The state of Illinois not only regards the marriage void, but more than likely will impose additional charges. This includes stepparents.

Fraud: This is a much broader topic, but also covers the many lies that one individual may tell another in order to get married. Essentially, one individual has tricked another into getting married. In some instances, a person is simply marrying to avoid deportation; in others an individual lacks the ability to have sexual intercourse, thereby failing to “consummate” the marriage.

It is important to discuss any legal concerns about your marriage with a family law specialist before attempting to tackle them on your own. The law firm of Nottage and Ward, LLP has years of experience at our disposal, which we will use to thoroughly and aggressively defend your interests.

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