What is the difference between a divorce and an annulment?

Divorces completely dissolve a marriage. When you get a divorce, you are recognizing legally that a valid marriage existed and now has come to a legal end. Annulments, on the other hand, recognize that as a matter of law the marriage itself was void from its beginning, meaning there never was a legal marriage at all. However, annulments in Georgia are rare and can only be granted on certain legal grounds.

What grounds can an annulment be based on?

There are only a few reasons (grounds) a court may grant an annulment in Georgia. One is if you and your partner are blood relatives as follows: parent and child or stepchild; grandparent and grandchild; aunt and nephew; or uncle and niece. Another is that one party to the marriage lacked the mental capacity to enter into a contract. A third is if one party to the marriage was under age 16 at the time of its inception. An annulment may be granted if one party was forced to marry the other party, or if one party was induced by fraud to marry the other party. Finally, if one party was legally married to another living person when the other party married them, the second marriage may be annulled.

Why would I want to get my marriage annulled?

Besides legally ending a purported marriage you likely do not want to be in, there are other benefits to annulment. First, if you pass away before your invalid marriage is annulled, your purported spouse may be able to inherit from your estate. In addition, by getting an annulment, the court can issue decisions regarding the joint ownership of assets, responsibility for joint debts and it changes your married name back to your former name.

Annulments are rare

Note that regret alone cannot annul a marriage, even if it has only been a few days from the wedding, unless you meet one of the legal grounds for annulment. In addition, getting an annulment if you and your purported spouse have a child together is complicated, so it is best to seek legal advice in such situations. Family law attorneys in the Atlanta area understand annulments and may be a useful resource.

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