The vast majority of marriages end either with the death of one of the spouses or through a divorce. But there is an alternative that some unhappily married people might qualify for known as an annulment.
The basic difference between divorce and annulment is somewhat technical. A divorce legally ends a marriage. An annulment means, as far as Florida law is concerned, the marriage never existed. This is because there was a legal problem at the time of the marriage that meant it should not have been allowed.
Common examples include fraud, one of the spouses already being married at the time of the wedding and one of the spouses being underage. If a spouse looking to end their marriage can prove one of these conditions existed when the marriage began, they may be granted an annulment.
Hypnotized into marrying?
Another justification for annulment is coercion or being forced into the marriage against your will. That appears to be what the estranged husband of actress Stacey Dash is claiming in a court filing in Pasco County asking for an annulment. In the filing, he claims that Dash’s pastor used “hypnotic prayer techniques” on him to force him to marry Dash after the couple had only known each other for ten days. It remains to be seen if the judge overseeing this divorce case will grant an annulment based on this claim.
Why annulment instead of divorce
In some ways, the experience of getting your marriage annulled is the same as a divorce. You and your spouse will still have to divide up your marital property, which can include valuable assets like real estate and investment portfolios. If you have children together, you will still need a child custody and visitation plan.
However, in an annulment, if you or your spouse were entitled to certain benefits, such as workers’ compensation or spousal support, that ended when your marriage began, those benefits will restart. There could be a financial benefit to you if your marriage is annulled instead of dissolved by divorce. Also, some people prefer an annulment to divorce for religious reasons.
Considering your options
Being granted an annulment can be more challenging than a divorce, but you should know all your options before proceeding. Speak with an experienced divorce attorney for more information.