What Does it Mean to Be Granted An Annulment?

According to the CDC, there were nearly 1.7 million marriages in the United States alone in 2020, with over 630,000 divorces. However, some marriages end in annulment rather than divorce. What is the difference? Read on to learn more.

What Is an Annulment?

An annulment, unlike a divorce, is a legal decree that declares a marriage void. In other words, an annulment is a court order stating that a marriage never existed.

An annulment processed through the court system is a civil annulment. It is similar to a divorce in that an annulment makes a legal determination about a person’s marital status. So, what is the difference? A divorce ends a valid marriage, while an annulment is a decree erasing a marriage as if it never existed.

There are religious annulments, but those are only granted by a church or a member of the clergy. Regardless of the type of annulment, they are rarely granted. In fact, if you and your spouse have children or are expecting children, you cannot get an annulment in Georgia.

What Are the Grounds for an Annulment?

Because annulments are only granted in specific circumstances, there are limited grounds on which you can pursue an annulment. In Georgia, these include:

  • A marriage between relatives. Also known as an incestuous marriage, this is a marriage between parent/child or stepchild; grandparent/grandchild; aunt/nephew, etc.
  • A marriage where one or both of the parties is mentally incompetent to enter into a contract
  • A marriage where one or both of the parties is under the age of 16
  • A marriage entered under duress
  • A marriage entered into under fraud
  • A marriage where one of the parties was legally married to a living spouse at the time of the marriage

Even if one of these grounds applies to your marriage, the court may not approve an annulment based on the facts and circumstances of your specific situation. Many people are under the misconception that the duration of the marriage has something to do with the ability to receive an annulment — this is untrue. The length of a marriage is not a ground for an annulment.

How Long Does an Annulment Take?

The basic procedures for an annulment are the same as those for a divorce. An annulment can typically be granted by final judgment and decree a mere thirty days after the opposing party has been served. After the issuance of a final judgment and decree of annulment by the court, you are free to remarry. In the eyes of the law, you will be as if you were never married.

The process begins with the filing of a petition for an annulment. If the ground for the annulment is the age of the wronged spouse, a parent known as the “next friend” of the wronged spouse has the legal right to file the petition.

The procedure for an annulment follows the same types of rules as a divorce action, so it may be necessary to consult a lawyer before filing a petition to make sure you follow the rules for pleadings, service of process and procedure. If your spouse files an answer to the petition opposing the request, you may have a right to a trial.

In order to file for an annulment in the state of Georgia, you must have been a resident of the state for six months and file the petition in the county in which you live. Interestingly, you can request an award of temporary alimony during the annulment process. However, there can be no award of permanent alimony after an annulment because the effect of the annulment is as if the marriage never existed.

Why Would You Need to Get an Annulment?

Some people seek an annulment because divorce carries a social stigma. For others, an annulment means fewer issues to deal with, like property division. Another reason a person might seek an annulment rather than a divorce is for religious reasons. For example, a person may not be able to get married in a church if they’ve been divorced.

Still Have Questions About Annulment?

When it comes to the dissolution of a marriage, whether by divorce or by annulment, our absolute focus is on our clients. We at Platt Family Law are here to serve you throughout this process and help you find the best solution for you. Contact us today at 404-255-3434 for a consultation.

Rachel Platt

Rachel Platt

Founding attorney, Rachel Platt, is a highly respected attorney among her peers and clients. Since 2014, Ms. Platt has been selected as a Georgia Super Lawyers in the field of family law. Additionally since 2018, Georgia Super Lawyers named her to the Top 100 Attorneys and to the Top 50 Women Attorneys for the State of Georgia. Previously, Ms. Platt was an honoree on the Georgia Rising Star list in the field of family law from 2010-2013, voted by her peers as one of the best young lawyers in the state. She has also been recognized as one of Georgia’s Legal Elite in 2009, 2012, 2016, 2018 and 2019 in the area of family law by Georgia Trend magazine. Ms. Platt also currently holds a “Superb” rating on avvo.com.Ms. Platt has been practicing law for the last 18 years and is currently concentrates her legal practice in the areas of family law and special education law, and as outlined below, she frequently lectures on both topics.

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