Couples who want to end their marriage have two choices in Kentucky: annulment and divorce. While each of these processes dissolves a marriage, there are some very important differences between annulments and divorces. Most notably, while any couple can get divorced, the requirements for obtaining an annulment are much stricter. At the law firm of Batson Nolan PLC, our Clarksville divorce legal team routinely advises and represents clients through all stages of divorces and annulments. With our help, you can assess all your options and come to the best decision for yourself and your family.
Annulment vs Divorce: Which Is Right for You?
Getting a divorce is not the only option for those looking to end a marriage in Kentucky. Depending on the situation, a spouse intending to end their marriage may qualify for an annulment. While there are several differences between annulment and divorce, the primary distinction is that a divorce ends a valid marriage while an annulment ends a marriage that was not valid from its inception.
In Kentucky, any couple can seek a no-fault divorce. This means there is no need to prove one spouse was responsible for the deterioration of the marriage. Aside from meeting the residency requirements and filing the necessary paperwork, there are very few hurdles to getting a divorce. In fact, some divorces proceed quite quickly, especially when the parties can agree on how the couple’s property should be distributed and issues relating to child custody and child support.
However, to obtain a Kentucky annulment, you must establish that there is a legal ground for the annulment. Spouses can prove they are eligible for an annulment by showing that the marriage was either void or voidable. A void marriage is one that was never lawful. On the other hand, a voidable marriage is one that was lawful at its inception but may be declared void under certain circumstances.
Kentucky law provides several legal grounds for annulment:
- Lack of capacity—one spouse was “mentally disabled” at the time and could not consent to the marriage;
- Bigamy—one spouse was legally married to another person at the time of the marriage;
- Procedural defects—the marriage was not “solemnized or contracted” in the presence of the appropriate person;
- Plural marriage—the marriage was between more than two people; and
- Underage marriage—the marriage involved a person under the age of 17.
Additionally, Kentucky law provides certain situations in which a marriage is voidable. Unlike a void marriage, a voidable marriage is legal unless one of the spouses proves the following:
- The marriage was obtained by force or fraud;
- A marriage involving a 17-year-old that was placed under duress when agreeing to marry; or
- A marriage involving a 17-year-old who did not go through the necessary process to obtain a lawful marriage for a minor.
Both a divorce and an annulment end a marriage. However, each has a different legal effect. Depending on your situation, it may be important to seek an annulment rather than a divorce.
The benefits of an annulment stem from the fact that, at the end of the process, it is as though the marriage never took place. Legally, someone who obtained an annulment can claim they are “single” rather than “divorced.” For this reason, many people seeking an annulment do so for social or religious reasons. Additionally, any prenuptial or postnuptial agreement becomes invalid once a marriage is annulled.
Another potential benefit of an annulment is that it may protect a spouse’s interest in their property. When a court grants an annulment, it generally tries to put each spouse in the same financial position they were in before the marriage. This means that, generally, courts do not distribute marital property during an annulment.
While an annulment invalidates a marriage, it does not mean that any children born during the marriage are illegitimate. State law provides that children born during a marriage are legitimate, even if the marriage ends in an annulment.
Most of the benefits of divorce come from the fact that divorces are much easier to obtain. To get a divorce, either spouse can initiate the process without needing to cite legal grounds for the divorce. While Kentucky allows for fault-based divorces, it also allows for no-fault divorces. No-fault divorces often take less time and avoid much of the drama associated with the process.
Just as an annulment may favor one spouse’s interests in terms of property division, a divorce may be a better solution for some spouses. This is especially the case if the marriage was for a longer period of time and one spouse obtained significant assets during the marriage.
When considering annulment vs divorce, there is no universal “right answer.” Those interested in obtaining a divorce or annulment should meet with a divorce legal practitioner to learn more about each process. This way, they can ensure that they pursue the option that best fits their needs.
Discuss Your Questions with an Experienced Kentucky Divorce Lawyer at Batson Nolan PLC Today
If you want to learn more about the difference between annulment vs divorce, or have any other divorce-related questions, reach out to the dedicated Kentucky divorce attorneys at Batson Nolan PLC. At Batson Nolan PLC, we have helped clients deal with the legal issues they face since 1860. Over this time, we developed an effective approach to handling even the most complex and high-stakes cases. Our staff of experienced lawyers and knowledgeable legal professionals takes pride in constantly improving the ways we help clients resolve all of their legal needs and concerns. To schedule a free consultation with one of our Kentucky divorce attorneys, give Batson Nolan, PLC a call. You can also connect with us through our online contact form.