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Marriage Annulment vs. Divorce

When terminating a marriage, couples have two options: Divorce and annulment. Although the outcome of both of these legal motions is the uncoupling of a married pair, they are each appropriate in different situations and involve different processes.

The main difference between annulment and divorce is that annulment acknowledges that the marriage was never valid, and must be terminated on the basis of legal violations. Conversely, a divorce ends a marriage that was valid, but not viable.

Grounds for Annulment vs. Grounds for Divorce

To qualify for a marriage annulment, a couple must establish that their marriage was never valid. The terms of what defines a “valid” marriage can vary by state. In Iowa, a marriage can be annulled if spouses are related, underage, considered “incompetent,” or married to other people.

Iowa is a “no-fault” divorce state, so couples do not need to have any specific reason other than irreconcilable differences to terminate their marriage. The technical “grounds for divorce” can vary widely between cases, but may not necessarily impact the legal proceedings.

Results of a Marriage Annulment vs. Results of a Divorce

When a couple pursues a marriage annulment, the goal is ultimately to terminate the records of a marriage that was not technically valid. As you can see by the reasons listed above, people who pursue annulment do so because they should never have been married at all. Although many divorcing couples may feel this way as well, annulments generally involve legal prohibitions to the original marriage whereas divorces generally focus on personal differences.

Following an annulment or a divorce, the result will be the termination of a marriage and all that entails: The separated couple will no longer live together, own property together, or otherwise be linked legally and financially. However, an annulment removes records of a potentially invalid marriage — once a marriage is annulled, it never existed (from a legal perspective). A marriage that ends in divorce will no longer continue, but all legal records of the marriage will remain. Any processes that require acknowledgment of a former marriage will recognize a divorce, whereas an annulment will not be recognized following completion of the procedure.  

The Law Offices of Mark R. Hinshaw, PLC handles cases of divorce and annulment. Contact us for representation in either of these legal circumstances.

If you would like to schedule a free consultation with our attorneys, complete our contact form or call (515) 200-7571.

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