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What is the difference between a Florida divorce and annulment?

When a Florida married couple has reached a point in their marriage where they can no longer get along and the marriage is no longer working, they have a few options at their disposal. They can have a legal separation, summary dissolution, divorce or have their marriage annulled. Each one is unique and distinct. Though a divorce and an annulment may seem to be identical in that they provide the same end result, they are not the same and in the case of an annulment can only be granted in certain specific situations.

Generally, when a couple desires to end their marriage by going through the formal process of a divorce, the specifics of the situation, such as income, children, who was the bread winner and who stayed home to look after the children and so on are important. There may and often times will be legal and financial responsibilities that both parties will be responsible to each other for. A few examples would be such things as child custody and visitation, spousal maintenance payments, which are also referred to as alimony, child support payments and the like.

When an annulment is requested, the marriage is legally dissolved, but the difference between it and a divorce is that the marriage is treated as if it never happened. Therefore, any responsibilities that would normally be attributed to either party after a divorce is finalized would not apply when an annulment is granted.

An annulment may be granted in the State of Florida under certain conditions, such as if the married couple is closely related by blood. This would cover marriages to a brother or sister, aunt or uncle and nephew or niece for example. Bigamy would also constitute grounds for granting an annulment.

An annulment may also be granted if one or both parties were not mentally capable of giving informed consent either due to their age or mental handicap of some type. The same applies if they were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time that they consented to getting married.

Source: FindLaw.com, "Florida Annulments and Prohibited Marriage laws," accessed on March 9, 2015

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