Can I Get an Annulment Instead of a Divorce in Florida?
If you are considering separating from your spouse in Florida, you may be wondering if you can get your marriage annulled instead of getting a traditional divorce. The answer is ‘yes’, but only when specific criteria are met. While Florida law does allow annulments, you can only get one under limited circumstances. Here, our Clearwater divorce attorney explains the most important things you need to know about your ability to seek an annulment in Florida.
Annulment vs. Divorce: Understanding the Difference
As explained by the Cornell Legal Information Institute, an annulment is a legal process that declares a marriage null and void. An annulment is distinct from a divorce in that it has a retroactive effect. While both a divorce and an annulment will end a marriage, an annulment goes further — it declares the entire marriage invalid. From a purely legal perspective, it will be as if the marriage never occurred.
Florida Has No Annulment Statute
Unlike some other U.S. states, Florida does not have an official annulment statute on its books. As a result, the procedures regarding annulments are set by the state’s common law. In the most simple terms, common law is law that is derived from custom and judicial decisions instead of from specific legal statutes.
Who Can Get an Annulment in Florida?
In order to obtain an annulment in Florida, you must be able to prove that your marriage was invalid. You cannot get an annulment simply because you have a personal preference for annulment over a divorce. Evidence must be presented that proves that an annulment is appropriate given the circumstances of the marriage. Some common examples of situations that can qualify for an annulment in Florida include:
- Proof that one spouse was underage on the date of the wedding;
- Proof that one spouse was still married to another party (bigamy); and
- Evidence that the marriage was entered due to fraud or under duress.
Couples seeking an annulment can file a petition for one with the local court. In some situations, it may be advantageous for one or both parties to pursue an annulment instead of a traditional divorce. As an example, an annulment could have an effect on property division or debt division. If you are considering voiding your marriage, it is strongly recommended that you consult with an experienced Florida divorce lawyer who has the skills and legal experience needed to handle an annulment case.
Get Help From Our Clearwater, FL Divorce Lawyer Today
At the Law Office of Gale H. Moore P.A., our top-rated Florida family law attorney has deep experience representing clients in the full range of divorce claims. To find out if you are eligible for an annulment or to get guidance from a skilled divorce lawyer, please do not hesitate to call us today at 727-584-2528 or to reach out to us online. From our law office in Largo, we handle family law cases in Clearwater, Pinellas County, and throughout the region.