Annulment vs. Divorce: 6 Key Differences You Must Know

Annul My Marriage Annulment vs. Divorce: 6 Key Differences You Must Know

Annulment vs. Divorce: What You Need to Know

Many times, people enter into marriage with loving intentions, but later find out things about their spouse that would have prevented them from marrying them in the first place. Other times, they've entered into marriage through circumstances that a court would uphold as invalid, and would render the marriage legally null and void. If you are unsure about your situation and are wondering about annulment vs. divorce, DoNotPay can help you learn if you qualify for an annulment and navigate the situation. 

What Is an Annulment? 

A  marriage annulment is a legal way to end a marriage that should never have been valid and makes it null and void.

Grounds for Annulment

Grounds for annulment vary by state, but common reasons for seeking and being granted an annulment include:

Underage MarriageIf a spouse was under the legal age to marry.
IncestMost states will not allow close relatives to marry, typically second cousins or closer, so these cases are often granted annulments.
IncompetenceIf one spouse was unable to understand the marriage, whether by insanity, mental illness, etc. the marriage can be annulled.
FraudWhen a spouse lies about something extreme but essential to the marriage that it would have prevented the other party from marrying them, a judge may grant an annulment based on fraud (lying about a pregnancy, criminal/prostitute background, STD status, etc.)
BigamyWhen an individual has a living spouse, the second marriage is often considered void from the start.
ImpotenceEntering into a marriage without knowing your spouse was impotent (or never consummating the marriage) can often be grounds for annulment.
Force/CoercionIf an individual was forced, threatened, or otherwise coerced into marrying, they can seek an annulment.

Annulment vs. Divorce 

Annulments and divorces do have similarities, but what are the differences between an annulment and a divorce?


As stated, an annulment is a legal ending to a marriage that should never have taken place and is considered void in the eyes of the law.  It will be as if the marriage never existed. Here are some things to know about annulments:

  • Annulments can/may result in a judge ordering child custody, visitation schedules, and/or child support
  • Children have the same rights (such as inheritance) in an annulment as they would in a divorce because it is based on established paternity.
  • Judges can divide property, assets, and debt
  • Spousal support is not available in all states when a marriage is annulled
  • There may be a specified limit of time for which an annulment can be filed
  • Generally, the cost of an annulment is often less than a divorce, provided one spouse doesn't object or fight the annulment, or you don't end up making costly mistakes doing it on your own.

Overall, an annulment requires more burden of proof, because there are specific requirements to meet before it can be granted.


A divorce is the legal end of a valid marriage. Typically, there are residency requirements for seeking a divorce, where you must reside in the state and/or county for a certain length of time before you can file for divorce. (Not all states require residency for an annulment.) Most states allow you to divorce for any reason or no reason, and you can cite "incompatibility" or "irreconcilable differences," meaning you no longer get along and cannot live together as spouses. You often do not have to prove grounds for divorce.

Find Out if You Qualify for an Annulment With DoNotPay

If you have found yourself in a precious situation regarding your marriage and you believe you may qualify for an annulment, DoNotPay can help. You may not want to seek out (and pay) for a lawyer without knowing more first. You may not have the time and energy if you are dealing with the consequences of fraud or forced marriage. DoNotPay can help.

You can provide us with some pertinent information, and DoNotPay can:

  1. Provide you with an Annulment Information Sheet so you can better understand your options
  2. Write a Letter to Your Local Family Court to start the annulment petition process.

It only takes 3 steps:

  1. Search for Annulment on the DoNotPay website. 
  2. Kick off the process to see if your marriage is eligible for an annulment. 
  3. Answer some specific questions about your marriage and see if your state law allows for an annulment.

DoNotPay Works in Every State 

No matter where you live, DoNotPay can help you understand your state's annulment laws with these handy guides. 

TexasCaliforniaNew York
IllinoisNorth CarolinaOhio
GeorgiaVirginiaWashington State
ColoradoNew JerseyPennsylvania
South CarolinaMinnesota Alabama
LouisianaNew MexicoArkansas
South DakotaMississippiOklahoma

What Else Can DoNotPay Do?

In addition to helping you with an annulment vs. divorce, DoNotPay can help you solve many other problems:

Whatever problem or issue you are facing, DoNotPay will help with a solution that saves you stress, time, and money.

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