Three Ways To End A Marriage: Divorce, Annulment, and Separation

Deciding to end a marriage can be a very emotional decision. There are several decisions that need to be made including child custody, visitation, and support, spousal support, property, and asset division. Another thing that needs to be determined is how you will proceed to become legally unmarried.

The most popular legal way to dissolve a marriage is through divorce. There are two are two different types of divorce. The first is a no-fault divorce and the second is a fault-based divorce. A no-fault divorce is when both couples amicably agree to divorce. Common grounds include irreconcilable differences, irremediable breakdown or loss of affection. A fault-based divorce is when one spouse files for divorce regardless if the other spouse agrees. Common grounds include medical malpractice, adultery, abandonment, domestic violence and/or drug and alcohol abuse.

Another way to legally end your marriage is through an annulment. While divorce ends a valid marriage, an annulment erases the marriage which means that the marriage never happened. In order to obtain an annulment some of the following conditions need to be met:

  • The marriage was incestuous or bigamous
  • The marriage was the result of force, fraud, physical incapacity, mental incapacity or under the influence of drugs and alcohol
  • The marriage took place when one or both spouses was under the legal age
  • The marriage took place when one or both spouses were already married

A legal separation may physically end a marriage, however, legally the spouses are still married. Neither spouse can become married or enter a domestic partnership. In some states, it is required to become legally separate before filing for a divorce. Many courts use the date of legal separation as a way to determine the division of marital assets.

If you are looking to legally dissolve your marriage, please don’t hesitate to contact one of our family law attorneys.