Marriages start out with high hopes and good intentions, but people are unpredictable, and some problems cannot be foreseen. Many people have heard the term “annulment” and believe it is an easy alternative to divorce for ending a marriage that recently took place, but this is not so.
From a legal perspective, in Illinois, an “annulment” is legally referred to as a “declaration of invalidity of marriage.” For the sake of brevity, we will refer to a declaration of invalidity of marriage as an annulment as we explore the difference between a divorce and an annulment and when one may be more appropriate than the other.
When Can a Marriage Be Declared Invalid?
An annulment is a court order that says a marriage is not and never was valid and should therefore not be considered legal by the state. A divorce, by comparison, is a court-ordered ending to a valid marriage.
In Illinois, there are four main reasons someone could get a marriage declared invalid:
- Lack of Consent – If a spouse could not consent to the marriage due to mental disability, drug or alcohol intoxication, or use of force, duress, or fraud, the marriage could be considered invalid.
- Underage Spouse – The age of marital consent in Illinois is 18. If one spouse was under 18 and did not obtain consent from a parent or guardian, the marriage is invalid. Individuals under age 16 cannot get married in Illinois.
- Sexual Incapacity – If one spouse cannot have sexual intercourse, and the other spouse did not know this at the time of the marriage, this may be grounds for invalidating the marriage.
- Illegality – If the marriage was illegal because one spouse was already married to someone else, or because the spouses were related by adoption or close blood, it may be invalidated.
Is Annulment Easier than Divorce?
It depends on the case, but probably not. Declaring a marriage invalid can only take place under very specific circumstances, and have stringent time limits. Depending on the cause for annulment, spouses only have between 90 days and one year to file.
An annulment does not provide for separation of property, alimony, or any other complications that can occur with divorce. Furthermore, any children resulting from the marriage have the same rights whether the marriage is ended in divorce or an annulment.
Speak With a Kane County Divorce Attorney
If you want to end your marriage and are unsure of your options, you should speak with a St. Charles, IL divorce attorney. The offices of Mirabella, Kincaid, Frederick, and Mirabella, LLC, will help you understand the law so you can make the decision that is best for you. Contact MKFM law today at 630-665-7300 and schedule your confidential consultation.