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Divorce vs. Annulment vs. Legal Separation

Divorce, annulment, and legal separation: These are all words that in some way refer to the end of a marriage. However, they are not synonymous, and many people fail to understand the legal implications of each term.

A Closer Look at Annulment and Divorce

Like divorce, annulment essentially dissolves a marriage partnership. On the other hand, divorce and annulment are dissimilar in many ways.

Annulment, for example, legally erases the marriage as if it never happened; a divorce terminates an existing marriage. Additionally, the marriage must align with certain qualifiers to be eligible for an annulment. These include:

  • Fraud or misrepresentation (One spouse misrepresented his / her age, etc.)
  • Concealed information (Such as prior felony convictions, drug addiction, etc.)
  • Refusal or inability to consummate the marriage
  • Misunderstandings (One spouse wants children and the other does not, etc.)

In most cases, the annulment is granted within a few weeks of the marriage. Generally speaking, it is easier to get an annulment if you’ve been married for a short time.

Understanding Legal Separation & Divorce

Legal separation differs greatly from divorce and annulment. While annulment and divorce effectively end the marriage, a legal separation does not.

Through legal separation, a couple can obtain a court-ordered judgment for child custody, property division, child support, and more without actually terminating the marriage. This allows each spouse to live separate lives while remaining legally married.

There are many reasons for legal separation; health insurance benefits and religious beliefs are two of the most common.

Types of Separation

  • Trial Separation – This occurs when a couple decides to live apart to see if they want to pursue a divorce or permanent separation.
  • Living Apart – Depending on the jurisdiction, living in separate residences can influence your property rights.
  • Permanent Separation – The separation is permanent when the couple decides to part ways without the intention of reconciling.
  • Legal Separation – This is the final step, where the couple seeks a legal agreement for the permanent separation.

Know Your Legal Options

If you think divorce, annulment, or legal separation may be the right solution for your family, speak to a Colorado family law attorney from Modern Family Law today. We have decades of legal experience guiding families through the divorce and separation process. If you’re searching for a divorce lawyer who truly cares, get in touch with ours to request your free, no-obligation consultation.

Posted August 14, 2015
by: MFL Team

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