What is the Difference Between an Annulment and a Divorce?

Difference between an Annulment and a Divorce

Here at Leach Legal we help our clients with a range of legal matters relating to family law. We are frequently asked to explain the difference between a divorce and an annulment.

Divorce and annulments are two different legal decrees spouses may seek once they have decided to end their marriage. These two legal decrees have differences that are helpful to understand prior to meeting with a lawyer.

What is a divorce?

Divorce means the termination of a valid marriage.  Issues such as division of property and assets and arrangements for children are dealt with separately and can be finalized before applying for or after a divorce is granted, although there are some time limits after you divorce.

A divorce order in Western Australia invalidates a Will unless that Will says that it was specifically signed in contemplation of divorce.

What is an annulment?

An annulment declares that a marriage was not valid. After investigating circumstances surrounding the marriage, the court will grant an annulment if it declares the marriage invalid.

The decree of nullity is an order that informs all parties that no legal marriage took place, even if a ceremony was held. Grounds for annulment include bigamy (one or both spouses were already married), lack of physical or mental consent (such as one partner was underage), fraud or duress, or if both parties were lineal relatives.

It must be understood that the grounds of fraud (usually as to identity) and duress are very difficult to satisfy, and we strongly recommend that you obtain legal advice from an experienced family lawyer if you have any queries in relation to applying for an annulment.

The difference between an annulment and divorce:

Divorce brings a legal marriage to an end, whereas an annulment treats the marriage as if it never occurred in the first place.  Annulment proceedings are also significantly more involved than divorce proceedings.

If you or a family member requires legal advice on divorce or annulment, contact Leach Legal today for a consultation.

As the largest family law firm in Perth, WA, we have a wealth of experience in helping our clients seek both annulments and divorce. We are here to help. You Matter.