The Difference Between Annulment and Divorce
Understanding this distinction is important. When you are married, you and your spouse are legally family. By the law’s standards, a divorce is more than two people separating. It is a declaration that they no longer want to be related.
Annulment works much differently. It nullifies the marriage, erasing it from your record. (If you look closely, you’ll see the word “null” there in the word!)
Essentially, marriage annulment assumes that the couple should not have been joined in the first place. Perhaps they were closely related, or maybe one spouse lied and tricked the other into the marriage. The law disregards the marriage as if it never happened.
Courts don’t have as much of a direct system for marriage annulments as they do for divorces. When a divorce comes through, the court does look at the individual facts of each case. However, it has standards it can apply to most any situation.
Annulment decisions, however, are on a case-by-case basis. Maybe the court orders some property division, maybe it doesn’t. It all depends on whether it believes that someone deserves some extra compensation.
Spouses Treated as Individuals
Divorce attempts to protect the spouses involved. They had committed to being family members, so they should not be left destitute after the marriage ends.
In many ways, an annulment treats both spouses as separate individuals. There may not be any spousal support or property division. The court could simply rule that each party leaves the marriage with any asset that is in their name.
All this individualism does, however, create a problem. Even longer marriages could be eligible for an annulment, and there may be children involved.
Child Custody Decisions
Parents who never marry one another can create parenting plans. Such is the case with an annulment.
If the court believes both adults are fit for legal parenthood, it can create a custody plan. This plan will outline shared custody, visitation, and all other necessary aspects. It will also dole out “legal” custody, which is the power to make decisions.
Parents can share legal custody, or it can all go to one person. Legal custody deals with educational and healthcare matters. The court can also give partial legal custody, allowing one parent to have more power than another, or they can share legal custody equally.
Parents are also free to make custody decisions on their own.
Child Support in an Annulment
The court wants to make sure the kids are protected. It will probably order some form of child support in an annulment.
However, it will probably approach the issue as if the parent were never married. There are plenty of people who have children together, and they decided not to get married. In these cases, one parent could still send child support payments to the other.
Generally, child support is strictly a pragmatic, financial matter. The court considers how much money must be spent on the children. Then it looks at each parent’s income and their ability to meet those needs. One parent usually has primary custody, and they spend the salary on the children directly. The other parent sends payments to help out.
If you have questions or concerns about annulling your marriage, Samra Dhillon & Associates is here to help. For a free consultation, call our office at (916) 571-1550 or contact us online.