Divorce versus Annulment

Family Law IconEnding a marriage is always a difficult decision.  No one enters into a marriage with the thought of putting an end to the relationship.  Unfortunately, not all relationships stand the test of time, and parties sometimes have to legally end their marriage.  The way in which the marriage is terminated can have far-reaching impacts for parties and they should carefully consider whether annulment or divorce is the more appropriate route for their case.

Annulment, unlike divorce, is only available in a very particular set of circumstances.  Although popular culture has spread the idea that a wife or husband may seek an annulment shortly after the marriage occurs simply because of “buyer’s remorse” or discovery of an affair, this is not true in Minnesota.  Minnesota statute 518.02 sets out the potential grounds for annulment.  These grounds include: 1) one spouse lacked the capacity to consent by virtue of a mental disease and at the time of marriage the other spouse did not know of the mental issue; 2) one party lacked the ability to consent at the time of the marriage due to drugs or alcohol; 3) one of the parties was under the age of consent; or 4) one party was unable to consummate the marriage.  For each of these situations, there is a time limit wherein an annulment must be sought.  For example, if the annulment is based on one party being underage, the annulment must be sought before that party reaches the age of majority.  An annulment will make the marriage such that it never happened.  This can have far reaching impacts, as without a marriage, there is no marital property to divide and spousal maintenance will not be an option.  Annulment will not, however, have an impact on whether a party may seek custody or the responsibility of both parties to financially support the children.

Divorce is very different from annulment in that instead of  erasing the marriage like it never happened, divorce simply ends the marriage.  Anyone may seek a divorce in Minnesota if the parties can establish that Minnesota has jurisdiction.  Unlike in days past, parties will not have to demonstrate cruelty, adultery, or other wrongdoing before they are able to get a divorce.

Deciding whether to seek an annulment or a divorce is a decision you should make after careful consideration with your attorney.  We have helped many clients with making this decision.  Contact us today at 651-464-7292 for an appointment to discuss your case and what is right for you.