Most people have an incorrect idea of what an annulment means and what requirements you must meet to acquire one. Contrary to common belief, an annulment is not simply a way to end your marriage if you have changed your mind just a couple weeks after wedding. It is a way to officially declare that your marriage was void from the start. There are both civil and religious annulments and each accomplishes different things.
A civil annulment is much different than a divorce. While a divorce represents the official ending of a marriage, an annulment actually claims that the marriage was void from the start. The reasons for a divorce involve things that happened during the marriage. An annulment, however, notes that there was a defect in the agreement to the marriage. This means that, from the start, both spouses were not fully in agreement to the terms of the marriage. Therefore, it is made void.
Many people believe that an annulment is just a way for people to change their mind about a marriage. In movies and TV shows, characters who haphazardly marry get an annulment as soon as possible. However, an annulment in no way depends on the length of the marriage. An annulment completely relies on the fact that the marriage was null and void from the start.
Grounds for Annulment
Two people attempting to get an annulment must prove beyond a doubt that they legitimately deserve one. For example, if one of the spouses in the marriage was already married and actually has another spouse, an annulment can be grated. An annulment can also be issued if one of the spouses is mentally or physically unable to continue fulfilling the responsibilities of the marriage. Other reasons that validate the request for an annulment are if one of the spouses is found to be underage, if the couple found to be closely related, or if one of the spouses has held back important information, such as impotence (which is also a grounds for annulment). There are many different reasons two people can get an annulment and each couple will have their own unique situation to negotiate and discuss.
Why an Annulment?
An annulment is advantageous for many people because it is less time-consuming and more cost-effective than a divorce. Also, while a divorce requires a 120 day waiting period before it is official, an annulment does not. Usually, annulments are given to people who have not been married very long, they usually do not have children together, and they have very few assets to divide, if any. Another very common reason people choose to get an annulment is religion, but that brings up the entirely new issue of religious annulments.
A religious annulment does not have any legal effect. The point of a religious annulment is to acknowledge, through your religion, that your marriage was void and that you have the right to marry someone else. The grounds of a religious annulment are decided by the church you belong to and are acquiring the annulment from.
To acquire a religious annulment, you must have already acquired an official civil divorce or civil annulment. Once you have proven that you have the divorce and have also shown that one of the spouses involved had a misunderstanding or problem in agreeing to the marriage, you can begin the process of getting a religious annulment. Unlike the quick process of a civil annulment, a religious annulment will take about a year and a half or more.
If you are considering a religious annulment, you should discuss the issue with a member of the clergy in your area. Explain the situation and find out more about what is actually involved in the long process of religious annulment.