What Is the Difference Between an Annulment and Divorce?
Many DuPage County residents realize that their marriages are not working out and that it may be time to separate from a spouse. For most people, this results in a decision to file for divorce. Yet we also speak with many people who want to know what the difference is between divorce and annulment, and whether they may be eligible for an annulment instead of a divorce. To be sure, there is a common misconception that annulment can be an alternative to divorce and that it can be quicker and easier.
It is important to understand that annulment and divorce simply are not interchangeable. In the most basic terms, a divorce is the only way to dissolve a legal marriage, while an annulment is how two parties would officially dissolve a marriage that was never legal in the first place. We will say more about how these distinctions work.
Annulment: When a Marriage Is Invalid
Annulment is a process that is only possible when a marriage is invalid. While the law in Illinois concerning annulment falls under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), it cannot be used when a couple is legally married.
The grounds for an annulment—known under the law as a “Declaration of Invalidity of Marriage”— include the following:
- One or more of the parties did not have the ability to consent to the marriage;
- One or more of the parties was induced into entering the marriage by force or duress, or by fraud;
- One or more of the parties does not have the physical ability to consummate the marriage but did not know about this inability at the time of the marriage;
- One or more of the parties was 16 years old or 17 years old at the time of the marriage and did not have parental consent or judicial approval; and/or
- Marriage is prohibited.
In addition to requiring grounds for a declaration of the invalidity of marriage, there are also specific timing requirements for eligibility. For example, if one of the parties lacked capacity or was forced into entering the marriage, a party must seek a declaration of the invalidity of marriage no later than 90 days after learning of the lack of capacity. The other grounds stated above have different timing requirements, and it is important to speak with a DuPage County family law attorney about the amount of time you have to seek an annulment.
Divorce: Dissolving a Valid Marriage
Unlike an annulment, a divorce is the process through which any legally married couple must go if they want to dissolve their marriage. The IMDMA governs the divorce process, and an Illinois divorce lawyer can provide you with more information about taking the first steps toward divorce.
Contact a DuPage County Divorce Attorney
If you have questions about the distinctions between divorce and annulment, an experienced DuPage County divorce lawyer at our firm can speak with you today. We have years of experience handling issues that are particular to Islamic divorce and to assist Muslims in the community with a wide variety of family law matters. Contact Farooqi & Husain Law Office at 630-909-9114 to learn more about how we can assist with your case.