What is the Difference Between Divorce and Annulment?
By: M. Scott Gordon
Sometimes married couples in the Chicago area who have been together for a short time have questions about whether they should seek an annulment instead of a divorce. Sometimes people are under the assumption that annulments are easier to get than divorces. In general, most of these notions about annulment are misconceptions. As such, it is important for married couples in the Chicago area who want to dissolve their marriages to understand the difference between filing for divorce and seeking an annulment.
Annulment is the Legal Declaration of Invalidity of Marriage
The first thing to know about annulment is that it is now known under Illinois law (750 ILCS 5/) as the “Declaration of Invalidity of Marriage.” To address some common misconceptions about annulment, this is not the legal practice to use if your marriage was a mistake and only lasted for a short time, or if you want to dissolve your marriage quickly. Rather, an annulment, or the declaration of invalidity of marriage, is only used to declare a marriage invalid under one of the following statutory circumstances:
Marriages can be illegal for a number of reasons. For instance, if one or both of the parties was already married to someone else, or if the parties are close relatives, then the marriage may be prohibited.
In order to have your marriage declared invalid, you must abide by specific timelines in the statute. The timelines for seeking a declaration of an invalid marriage depend upon the reason for your decision to seek a declaration of invalidity of marriage. The following are the timetables for each cause:
If the marriage is prohibited, there is no time limit.
Should I File for Divorce or Seek a Declaration of Invalidity of Marriage?
First, if your situation does not fall under one of the situations described above and you want to dissolve your marriage, you will need to file for divorce. Moreover, there really should be no situations in which a couple can choose between divorce or a declaration of the invalidity of marriage. To be clear, if your marriage is invalid to begin with, you likely should not file for divorce, and as long as your marriage was valid, you probably should not seek to have it declared invalid.