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Smith Welch Webb & White Blog

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Difference Between Divorce and Annulment in Georgia

As a family law attorney located just south of Atlanta, I am sometimes asked about the difference between divorce and annulment here in Georgia. 

Simply put, the difference between a divorce and an annulment is that a divorce signifies the end of a marriage, whereas an annulment signifies that the marriage never legally existed in the first place.

A common myth is that a very short marriage can be erased by an annulment.  The truth is, the length of a marriage has nothing to do with the eligibility for an annulment.  Couples who have been married just a few days, weeks or months will need to file for divorce unless they meet the other requirements for annulment.

Divorces are much more common than annulments in Georgia, because applicants for successful annulments need to fulfill certain strict criteria.  In Georgia, your marriage can be annulled if it was never permitted by law in the first place and therefore is invalid. 

Criteria for claiming an invalid marriage, or annulment, in the state of Georgia include that one (or both) parties were:

  • already related by blood or marriage

  • mentally incompetent when committing to wedding vows

  • underage (16 years or younger) when married

  • forced to into the marriage by coercion or fraud

  • already married to a different living spouse

Even if you (or your spouse) meet one of the standards above, there are still certain criteria that can automatically make you ineligible for an annulment in Georgia.  For example, if you and your spouse already have children, or if you (or your spouse) is already pregnant, you cannot successfully get an annulment under Georgia law – you will need to pursue a divorce if you want to end your marriage.

Another thing to keep in mind if you are eligible for annulment is that Georgia courts cannot award permanent alimony for annulments, because permanent alimony is designed for formerly married couples and an annulment declares that the marriage was invalid, and the couple was never legally married in the first place.

If you are considering a divorce (or annulment), a smart first step is to meet with an experienced family law attorney to determine your best strategy moving forward.  I have helped many clients define their goals and create a specific plan for their case before filing, which helps anticipate next steps throughout the process.  Each divorce is different, and with that in mind, we can help you successfully navigate the road ahead.

For more information on divorce and other family law matters, email Megan Pearson at mpearson@smithwelchlaw.com or call 770-957-3937.  Megan is experienced in all aspects of family law, including divorce, legitimation, custody, child support and juvenile court matters. Smith, Welch, Webb and White is recognized as a premier law firm throughout the state of Georgia. Our team of experts routinely handles a wide range of legal matters, and will provide outstanding service for you, your family or your business.

 

Any representations regarding the law in this Blog is made available for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog publisher. The Blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.


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Smith Welch Webb & White serve clients throughout the south metro Atlanta area including but not limited to McDonough, Stockbridge, DeKalb County, Clayton County, Henry County, Peach County, Jonesboro, Spalding County, Butts County, and Lamar County.



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