Wednesday, December 21, 2011

How is an Annulment different from Divorce in Texas?

A divorce legally terminates a marriage. While you are no longer married, the marriage was legally valid at the time.
An annulment dissolves a voidable marriage by declaration that it was legally invalid. From a legal perspective, after an annulment, it is as if the marriage never existed.
There is also a difference between a “voidable” marriage and “void” marriage. A voidable marriage is valid and recognized until it is annulled and declared legally invalid. On the other hand, a void marriage was never valid or recognized. For example, a marriage is voidable and can be annulled if one of the parties was under the influence of alcohol or narcotics at the time of the marriage. However, this marriage will be valid unless an annulment is sought. A marriage is void if, for example, one of the parties is currently married to a third party at the time of the marriage. This marriage is invalid and will not be legally recognized.
Texas law allows an annulment only in very specific circumstances and only if the party seeking the annulment can prove certain necessary facts.
Because seeking an annulment is asking the court to declare that the marriage was void and never existed, seeking an annulment rather than a divorce can affect the processes people typically associate with a divorce such as the division of property, and all potentially affected aspects should be carefully considered.
The articles following later this month will discuss the specific grounds for an annulment in Texas.
References: Texas Family Code 6.101 – 6.206

Article by Sarah F. Berry, Attorney