While we always hope for a happy and fulfilling marriage, unfortunately they don’t always work out.
When things don’t work out, we strive to make the process as painless and quick as possible.
There are two ways to end a marriage here in Florida, divorce or annulment:
- Divorce – An option legal procedure for the breakdown of a marriage or a conjugal union.
- Cancelation – A legal procedure within religious legal systems to declare a marriage null and void. Unlike divorce, annulment is often retroactive, meaning the marriage is considered invalid from the start, almost as if it never took place.
Simply put, the difference between an annulment and a divorce is that a divorce ends a marriage, while an annulment erases the existence of the marriage as if it never existed. Not all states recognize annulment as a legal way to end a marriage, so it’s important to understand the ins and outs of annulment in Florida to determine if it’s the best option for your family instead. than to move forward with divorce proceedings. Annulments are granted on a limited basis, so you want to make sure you fully qualify before exploring this as an alternative to divorce.
Grounds for Marriage Annulment in Florida
Note – There are civil and religious cancellations. Because religious annulments can only be granted by a member of the church or clergy, we focus on civil annulments.
To be eligible for a civil annulment petition in Florida, you must meet specific requirements for prove to the court that your marriage was never valid in the first place. The requirements usually include some type of fraud, but may also include other circumstances. Grounds for cancellation in the State of Florida include:
- Either spouse entered into the marriage under duress or fraud.
- Either spouse was a minor at the time of the marriage.
- Either spouse was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of consent to marriage.
- Either of the spouses suffers from a mental or physical handicap which prevents him or her from consenting to the marriage.
- One or both spouses entered into the marriage as a joke or a prank.
- Other reasons. In addition to the more common grounds listed above, the State of Florida also recognizes mental incapacity, bigamy, incest, and a spouse’s refusal to have sexual intercourse with the other as valid grounds for ‘cancelation.
Although infidelity is one of the most common grounds for marriage dissolution, it is not considered grounds for annulment. The State of Florida does not have a specific procedure or statute for annulling a marriage. The marriage can be annulled as long as the marriage is considered void or voidable based on the grounds listed above.
Getting Marriage Annulled – Void or Voidable Marriage
A marriage is considered a void marriage if there is one that should never have been granted in the first place. A marriage is voidable if either party can challenge the legitimacy of the marriage, even if it was considered valid at the time of the marriage. For example, if one of the parties finds out that their spouse was already married to someone else, the marriage would be considered voidable.
Annulment is much more difficult to obtain than divorce due to the burden of proof associated with it. Florida is a no-fault state, which means you don’t have to prove adultery or other reasons to get a divorce.
What you need to know about marriage annulment in Florida
In Florida, there is no limit to how long you can be married and still be eligible for annulment if your marriage does not work out. Generally, the person deemed to be the innocent spouse must file an annulment petition, as most states do not allow the tortfeasor to be the plaintiff in an annulment case.
In some ways, annulment is considered a more streamlined process than divorce. After all, if the marriage never existed, there are no assets to share. Obviously, the division of property will still have to take place, but this is not part of the cancellation procedure. Although property division is not part of an annulment case, a judge has the ability to award spousal support.
After the publication of a decree of annulment, the two parties can marry. If they marry before the decree is issued, the resulting marriage will be considered invalid.
Marriage Annulment in Florida
While it is rare for the State of Florida to grant an annulment, it does happen. Determining validity is the first step in moving a cancellation case forward. If an annulment is not granted, divorce is the best option for a couple seeking to dissolve a marriage.
If you are unsure whether to divorce or request an annulment, contact us for a consultation. We’ll help you determine the best course of action based on your situation and your unique circumstances. Our divorce attorneys have extensive experience and are ready to help you move forward with the best plan for your unique circumstances.