People who want to end their marriages might think that divorce is the only option available to them. But in Texas, you have two primary options to end your marriage: a divorce and an annulment. Although they’re both ways to end a marital relationship, there are many differences between an annulment and a divorce.
So what are the legal differences between a divorce and an annulment in Texas? Today, The Larson Law Office will provide some general information on methods to end a marriage in Texas. However, if you are considering ending a marriage, you should speak with a Texas divorce attorney to determine what the best course of action is for you.
The Differences Between an Annulment and a Divorce in Texas
What is an annulment vs. a divorce in Texas? As most of us know, divorce ends a legally valid marriage. However, in an annulment, one of the parties claims that the marriage is not legally valid due to something that happened at the time the parties entered into the marriage.
Divorce in Texas
A divorce is the most common way to end a marriage. One primary difference between an annulment and a divorce is that in a divorce, both parties and the court presume that the marriage is legally valid. Thus, a divorce legally ends a valid marriage.
Grounds for Divorce
Texas law specifies legal reasons, or grounds, for a divorce, which are different from the legal grounds for an annulment. The grounds for a Texas divorce are as follows:
- Abandonment for a year or more,
- Mental or physical cruelty,
- A felony conviction for either spouse,
- Confinement in a mental institution,
- Living apart for more than three years, and
The first six grounds for divorce listed above are fault-based grounds. You must prove that one of the spouses engaged in the specified activity. The last ground of insupportability is the Texas version of no-fault divorce. In a no-fault divorce, neither party is alleging blame for the marriage’s end.
An Annulment in Texas
In an annulment, one of the parties asks a judge to declare that the marriage was invalid from its inception. The effect of an annulment vs. divorce in Texas is significant. If a court grants an annulment, it will be as though the marriage never occurred in the first place.
Texas Grounds for an Annulment
In Texas, the legal reasons one can use for an annulment are as follows:
- Marriage to a person over 16 but under 18 without parental consent;
- One spouse was under the influence of drugs or alcohol;
- One spouse was impotent;
- Fraud (a spouse lied about a material fact of the marriage);
- Duress or force, or threats of force;
- One of the spouses concealed a prior divorce;
- One of the spouses lacked the mental capacity to enter into a marriage; or
- The marriage took place within 72 hours after the license was issued.
If the circumstance listed above ends or the innocent spouse continues to behave as if the marriage is valid, then a court will not grant an annulment. For example, if the threat of force ends and the spouses remain married, a court will not grant an annulment. Similarly, if the innocent spouse learns of impotence or a concealed divorce and remains in the marriage, they cannot later request an annulment. Therefore, to get an annulment, one must act to nullify the marriage promptly after discovering the fraud or other valid ground. If the wronged spouse waits and continues to act as if the marriage is valid, a judge will likely refuse to annul the marriage.
Other Grounds to Void a Marriage
In addition to the above rules, Texas permits someone to ask a court to declare a marriage void under the following circumstances:
- Consanguinity (the spouses are too closely related);
- Marriage to a minor; or
- Marriage to a stepchild or stepparent.
Proving these grounds are different from the grounds for annulment above. An attorney can explain these options.
Reasons for an Annulment vs. Divorce in Texas
What are the benefits of an annulment vs. a divorce? In other words, since an annulment is arguably harder to get, why would anyone try to get an annulment? Perhaps an annulment is more appropriate for your religious or social needs. Many believe the stigma of divorce is worse. However, you could encounter complications in an annulment that you wouldn’t otherwise encounter in a divorce.
For example, Texas law views all marital property as community property. When couples divorce, a court has a legal method to distribute the community property between the parties. In an annulment, however, since the marriage never existed, there is no community property. Thus, it would be difficult for one party to make a legal claim to the other’s property, even if it was acquired during the marriage or purchased together.
Plus, you may have to jump through some additional hoops if there are children involved in an annulment. You should discuss your specifics with a Texas family attorney before deciding on an annulment vs. a divorce.
Contact Our Family Attorneys
The differences between annulment and divorce are significant. Selecting either method to end your marriage demands meeting many legal and procedural requirements. Fortunately, the attorneys at The Larson Law Office are experienced in divorce, annulments, and the collateral issues of each. Contact us today for a consultation.