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Difference Between an Annulment and Divorce


There is much confusion regarding the difference between a legal annulment and a divorce. There are very specific circumstances under which a person may have the right to file for either an annulment or a divorce, and the consequences of each are vastly different as well. If you are considering separating from your spouse, you may be curious as to the difference between a legal annulment and a divorce. Understanding the differences can help you determine which process is best suited for your unique circumstance.

Definitions of Annulment and Divorce

As a quick summary, the major distinction between an annulment and a divorce is that an annulment legally declares that the marriage was invalid, and a divorce legally ends a valid marriage.

Annulments, therefore, erase the fact that a marriage ever took place legally by declaring it null and void from the start of the marriage. Essentially, an annulment states that a valid marriage never took place. It is important to note that the marriage will still be listed in legal documents and records on file, however, again, it will never have been considered valid for any legal reasons. A quick point of consideration is that some religions also provide annulments through their religious institutions. However, these annulments are completely separate from legal annulments and have no impact on the legal annulment process.

Divorces never deny that a legally valid marriage took place, but rather are a legal ruling that indicates that the legally valid marriage is now officially dissolved. After the finalization of a divorce, the marriage is legally ended, and both spouses are free to marry other people.

Grounds for Annulment 

The grounds (or basis) for an annulment typically rest on some sort of lie, fraud, secret or unknown fact by one party regarding the other party. Some of the examples of grounds for annulment would be that one spouse lied and never told the other spouse they were already married to someone else, that the marriage was between close family members, or that one spouse lied about his/her age.   The grounds for an annulment are fact specific in relation to why the marriage was invalid from the inception.  This is also why annulments in Maryland are not very common.

Let Us Help You Today

If you are considering either an annulment or a divorce in the state of Maryland, you may wonder which one would be better for your unique circumstance. Contact the experienced Prince Frederick divorce attorneys serving southern Maryland at the offices at Meng Law at 410-449-1647 or online today. Our legal team can help you understand your legal rights under either an annulment or a divorce, and how to ensure your rights are protected.


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