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What Is The Difference Between Divorce and Annulment?

Divorce and annulment
What is the difference between divorce and annulment?

Annulment and divorce have very different meanings and implications in Virginia. They are both ways to dissolving a marriage by Virginia couples. In this article, we will be sharing more details about Annulment in Virginia.

Divorce vs. Annulment

A divorce is a legal process which dissolves a legally valid marriage, on the other hand, annulment is a legal declaration made by the court that the marriage never existed from the beginning or a formal announcement that a marriage is legally invalid.

Void Marriages in Virginia

The following marriages are void and not legally recognized from the beginning which therefore qualify for an annulment in Virginia:

1. Bigamous marriage or marriage to someone who is already married to another person

2. Incestuous marriage or marriage to a close relative

Voidable Marriages in Virginia

Voidable marriages are legally valid marriages unless one of the spouses file for an annulment. The following are voidable marriages in Virginia:

1. If one spouse was physically or mentally incompetent at the time of the marriage

2. If the marriage license is invalid

3. If one spouse consented to the marriage under fraud or duress

4. If one spouse was a felon or a prostitute without the other spouse’s knowledge at the time of the marriage

5. If one spouse was impotent

6. If the wife was impregnated by another man without the husband’s knowledge

7. If the husband fathered a child by another woman within ten (10) months of the marriage

How Do I Proceed for Annulment in Virginia?

To get an annulment in Virginia, you will need to file a Complaint for Annulment in the circuit court in a county where you or your spouse lives.

You need to provide several information in your Complaint such as your names, addresses, phone numbers, and marriage details.

When you file your Complaint, you need to serve it on your spouse.

A hearing before a judge will be conducted and you would have to prove the legal grounds for you seeking for an annulment. If all requirements are met, and you have proven your case, a judge may rule to have your marriage annulled.

Time Limitations for Annulment

An annulment may be filed shortly after the marriage but the above-mentioned circumstances must be met.

In Virginia, being married for a short time is not a ground for annulment but if you have been married for two years or less and your marriage met the requirements for annulment, then your marriage in Virginia can be annulled.

Effects of Annulment

The primary effect of annulment is that it means that your marriage was never really valid in the first place.

In Virginia, a family court judge cannot order alimony or property division after a decree of annulment has been issued unlike in divorce cases.

The judge can still decide about child custody, child support, and child visitation.

Children born out of annulled marriages are considered legitimate children which means they have the right to be financially supported by both parents and can inherit from either parent.

Seek Legal Advice Before Filing a Suit for Annulment

There are different reasons for pursuing a divorce or an annulment by one or both spouses. At the end, ending a marriage is generally because one or both spouses want to leave the union.

It is difficult to figure out the difference between divorce proceedings and annulment proceedings all on your own. In some cases, you may decide to file a divorce rather than annulment, even if your case qualifies for an annulment. This decision will probably be one of the greatest decisions you will have in your life as it can have a significant impact on your future.


Let us help you determine which marriage dissolution would be applicable to your situation. Contact Attorney Tori Bramble, Fredericksburg Virginia Divorce Attorney, today at (540) 628-7340, or you may visit for more details.

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