What's the difference between an annulment, separation and a divorce?

Modified on 26 Sep 2016 at 2:50 pm

An annulment cancels a marriage as if it never happened in the first place. It is much less common than a divorce. LegalVorce does not offer annulment document services. The legal effect of the annulment declares it as if the marriage never technically existed. Although the rules vary by state, annulments can be granted when there is evidence of bigamy (one spouse illegally married to multiple partners), forced consent, fraud or other policy reasons supporting the idea that the marriage should not be recognized as a legal voluntary union of two people.

Meanwhile, a separation is a legally recognized separation between spouses available in some states. It does not dissolve the marriage and the parties are not allowed to re-marry. In some states, a formal separation can impact whether assets obtained during the period of separation are separate or community assets. LegalVorce does not provide assistance with separations.

A legal separation is a judicially recognized separation between spouses. A legal separation does not end the marriage and both spouses are prohibited from remarrying or entering into a domestic partnership with another person. Simply living apart or agreeing to separate for a period of time does not constitute a legal separation in most states. However, some states consider the date of permanent separation, rather than the date of legal separation, when determining the length of the marriage for purposes of dividing marital assets.