The Difference Between Divorce and Annulment
From a legal standpoint, marriage is a contractual relationship between two parties (persons) giving certain rights to both the spouses. A divorce is the dissolving of the legal contract of marriage. An annulment is asking the court to determine that a valid contract was never formed.
- No fault vs. Proving: A valid reason for annulment must be proved by your attorney in front of a judge. Because Oklahoma is a no-fault state, you do not have to prove a reason for a divorce. This often makes divorces less complicated.
- Property Division: The dividing of property is drastically different. In a divorce case, most of the property and debt the spouses obtained while married is divided between them. However, in an annulment, there is no joint property to divide and your lawyer must determine which property belongs to each person. In a divorce, the name on the title or deed for property is irrelevant as a court can divide property and order retitling it any way it sees fit. However, if no marriage existed, the court does not have this power and the property’s title will determine ownership.
- Child custody: In an action for divorce, both parties have rights to the child inherently because they were married. However, in a case where one person is seeking to annul the marriage, custody of any children is with the mother until a court determines otherwise. A separate lawsuit for paternity must be filed if the father wishes to have any rights to the child.