Most people know little to nothing about how divorce actually works until they get to the point when they themselves wants to obtain one (or their partner does), and a common question people have at the very beginning of thinking about divorce is whether or not they can get an annulment. This is an understandable thought, as annulment seems to many to be a simpler process. But while annulment is available as a legal option for terminating a marriage in Florida, it only applies to a limited number of situations, and, even when it does, is not necessarily simpler or “easier” than divorce.
THE DIVORCE BETWEEN A CHURCH AND CIVIL ANNULMENT
To the extent you have heard about the process of annulment, it is most likely in the context of a religious institution. Marriage has long been a dual process for many, as 1) churches officially recognize marriage, and 2) the state has its own processes for recognizing marriage. Each has their own rules and qualifications. By way of example, same-sex marriage is legal in all 50 states but many religious institutions will only recognize marriages between a man and a woman.
It’s the same with annulment. Many churches do not recognize divorce except in specific situations, and the concept of annulment in the church is (at least in part) a way of showing that a previous marriage was never valid, thus giving the church the ability to allow people in a non-valid marriage to remarry without concern over divorce.
Such issues are entirely between you and your church, but the point is that, while the state of Florida does offer annulments, it is a completely separate matter from a church granting you an annulment.
ANNULMENT IN FLORIDA
Returning to the question of who can get an annulment in Florida, the list is quite narrow. Florida can grant an annulment (which again means the marriage was never valid) when:
- There was a bigamous marriage (more than two partners in a marriage)
- There was an incestuous marriage
- The parties were never officially married in the eyes of the law
- One spouse was mentally incapacitated
- One spouse is physically unable to have sexual relations with the other spouse, and the condition is incurable
- One spouse was underage at the time of the marriage
- The marriage was obtained through fraud, misrepresentation, duress, force, or some other lack of consent
Even where there is grounds for annulment in Florida, the state laws have evolved to allow for the parties in the annulled marriage to nevertheless seek:
- Custody rights of children
- Child support payments
- Division of property
In that sense, an annulment will involve the same issues as a divorce, meaning it is not necessarily simpler nor does it affect the rights and obligations of either party. Thus, people generally seek a divorce, but you should speak with a Florida family law attorney about your specific circumstances.
CONTACT FLORIDA FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY RYAN MYNARD TODAY ABOUT YOUR DIVORCE MATTER
If you have any questions about alimony in Florida, or you are seeking counsel in any other Florida family law matter, contact Florida family law attorney Ryan Mynard at +1-850-683-3940 today to get started.