Understanding the sometimes-subtle differences between an annulment and a divorce can help guide your decision-making process if you’ve chosen to end your marriage. Both are options in New York, but according to our divorce lawyers, both are different and what’s best in one situation, may not be best in all.

New York laws allow a couple to end their marriage through a divorce or an annulment. Unlike a legal separation, both the divorce and annulment are considered permanent.Beyond that, they are both very different processes.

New York Annulment

An annulment is filed with the goal of having the marriage invalidated – as though it never existed. A common example can be found in the bride and groom might who had too much to drink the night before and decided, on a whim, to fly to Vegas. Upon returning, they may realize just how big of a mistake they made. In these instances, the marriage is simply nullified through an annulment and the couple continues their lives as single people, just as they did before the marriage.

An annulment might be pursued if either the husband or wife – or both – were younger than 18 when they exchanged their vows. If, however, they are still married after either turns 18, the annulment is no longer an option. Should they wish to end the marriage at that point or any point after that, they would need to consult a divorce attorney and pursue that path.

Another scenario where an annulment is more appropriate is if the marriage was not consummated. Depending on the circumstances, proof might need to be presented, such as medical documentation, if either husband or wife were unable to consummate the marriage.

If the marriage was entered into under fraudulent circumstances, the argument for an annulment can be made in New York.

An inability to understand the marital vows due to mental illness is grounds for an annulment.

Keep in mind, an annulment is often a more complicated process and the guidelines for pursuing it can be challenging.

New York Divorce

A divorce, on the other hand, is sought to end a marriage that was entered into with none of the specifics outlined above. The couple files for the divorce, complete with divorce papers and property settlements. If children are involved, the case will also have child support and custody orders.

With a divorce, there are likely assets and other contractual obligations between the husband and wife that will need to be divided; a few of the most obvious include:

  • Mortgages
  • Retirement
  • Healthcare
  • Bank Accounts

There are countless details that are factored into whether an annulment or a divorce is the best option. This is why a qualified Rochester divorce attorney should be consulted. He or she can walk you through the intricate process, carefully explaining your options as you move forward in an efficient way.

He or she will also explore the pros and cons of any decision, such as those associated with marital property and the well-being of your children. It’s challenging, but when it’s done properly, the necessary healing can occur. Experience matters, so be sure to explore your options carefully before choosing legal representation.