Many people think that divorce and annulment are the same things. While the ultimate result of both the processes is the end of a marriage, but they are quite different from each other. Both options help in dissolving a marriage. A divorce is a less time-consuming and simpler process, which leads to the termination of a marriage. However, the process of annulment is complex in which a person must prove that the marriage is void and never existed.
When it comes to the state laws of Florida, they don’t explicitly address the annulment of marriage. However, Florida’s higher-level courts have issued numerous judgments on matters related to annulments over the years. All these decisions by the courts now constitute Florida’s annulment laws.
The major difference between an annulment and divorce is that a divorce ends as an existing and valid marriage, while an annulment confirms that the marriage was never valid. Although annulments are possible in Florida, their process is difficult and challenging for a person.
In this blog, you will learn about the challenges that you might face while annulling your marriage in Florida and how a family law attorney in Florida can help you in finding their solution.
If you want to get an annulment, then he/she must know what qualifies you for an annulment in Florida. The requirements to nullify a marriage in Florida are:
• Bigamy: Bigamy is when one person is already married and then again gets married to another person. Getting married to two people at the same time is not legal. That’s why under these circumstances, a marriage can be annulled.
• Inability to Consent: If a person lacks the mental capacity to consent to a marriage, then the marriage can be annulled. The reason for the inability can be alcohol, drugs, mental disability, or an illness resulting in mental confusion.
• Fraud: The marriage can be voided and annulled if a spouse withholds certain facts that would have prevented the marriage in the first place.
• Impotence: If one of the spouses already knew that they are impotent and never disclosed it to the other spouse before getting married, then the marriage can be annulled.
• Underage Spouse: If one of the spouses was underage at the time of marriage, then an annulment can be filed.
• Forced Marriage: A marriage can be annulled on the basis of the fact that one spouse was threatened into it by duress, force, or coercion by the other spouse.
The state laws of Florida require a marriage to be classified as either a void or voidable marriage in order to receive an annulment. Keep reading this blog to understand about a void and voidable marriage.
A void marriage is invalid or unlawful under the laws of the jurisdiction. It is invalid or void from its beginning. As the void marriage never existed, no formality is required to terminate it. If both the spouses marry in good faith, but somehow, later on, the marriage is found to be void, and then the spouses are recognized as putative spouses and the marriage as a putative marriage.
What Makes a Marriage Void or Null?
• An incestuous union means marriage between two closely related family members.
• A bigamous union, which means marriage between three or more people.
• A marriage between one or two underage persons.
• Marriage between a mentally incapacitated person and a mentally competent person.
A voidable marriage is a marriage that wasn’t invalid when it started but after a period of reflection, it became that way. It can be canceled with the consent of both the parties through annulment. The marriage can be canceled in the court if contested by one of the parties.
What Makes a Marriage Voidable?
• If one or both spouses had temporary mental problems or were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of marriage.
• If one or both spouses were under any duress, coercion, or force during the marriage.
• When one spouse is impotent and didn’t disclose this information before getting married.
• If one of the spouses was underage while getting married.
The first step to get an annulment in the state of Florida is to file the annulment papers in Florida’s circuit courts. The court proceedings of annulments are governed by Florida’s family law rules. For initiating the annulment process, the person must file and serve a petition in the court. This petition would explain the reasons behind the marriage being void or voidable.
If the one the parties do not agree with the claims in the petition, then he/she has the right to file a counterclaim for dissolution of marriage. And, if that party prevails on the counterclaim, the court grants a divorce instead of an annulment.
If the couple has children(s) in a void marriage, then they are not considered legitimate under Florida law. This is because the marriage was never valid. However, if the marriage is voidable, then it does not affect the legitimacy of the children because these marriages are valid until an annulment.
It doesn’t matter whether the marriage is void or voidable; the court makes decisions about child support and child custody. After the annulment, neither of the former spouses has the right to inherit the property of each other. Neither of them can claim each other’s insurance, retirement, or other benefits.
When both the parties accept all the terms of the annulment and reach an agreement, a Final Decree of Annulment can be prepared. Both the parties are required to sign the Decree of Annulment and submit to the judge. To opt for a Decree of Annulment without hearing, the couple must fill the Request for Summary Disposition and an Affidavit in Support.
The benefits of getting an annulment are:
• No Division of Property is Required: If a person qualifies for annulment, no property division is required. This is because the courts assign the property and debts to the rightful owner whosoever was before the marriage.
• Invalidation of Prenuptial Agreement: A person getting an annulment can be released from the terms of the prenuptial agreement. This agreement only applies to the spouses who are getting divorced and legally separating.
• Declaration of No Legal Marriage: An annulment declared that the person was never legally married. It is contrastingly beneficial as compared to a divorce in which the marriage was legal and is dissolved after the completion of the divorce process.
There are a lot of benefits of hiring a family law attorney. One of them is that they have plenty of experience in matters related to annulments. Also, keeping in mind the fact that the process of annulment involves various legal complications, you need someone by your side to address all the issues. Here’s how a family law attorney can help in the annulment process:
• You will receive legal and objective advice.
• An attorney can in protecting your rights.
• The chances of a fairer settlement will increase.
• You will get the necessary guidance in a mentally stressful time.
• Your petition will be at a legal advantage.
• An attorney will get your case filed quickly.
• The attorney will help in making the whole court process hassle-free.
• An attorney will keep you updated with state and federal laws.