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What is the difference between annulment and dissolution?

On Behalf of | Nov 1, 2023 | Dissolution

Many people who realize that their marriage is not healthy and/or functional choose to legally end their relationships. However, they may dislike the idea of filing for a litigated divorce. Thankfully, there are two primary alternatives to the highly contentious divorce that people often associated with the end of a marriage.

Ohio law allows people to seek either marital dissolution or annulment. These legal processes are distinct and are available under specific circumstances as a result.

Annulment establishes that a marriage was never valid

For someone to obtain an annulment in Ohio, they need to prove that the marriage was not valid for one of a limited number of reasons enshrined in state law. One of the reasons for annulment would involve someone under the age of 18 possibly misrepresenting their circumstances to get married while too young to legally do so. If either spouse is not yet 18 years of age at the time of the marriage, then an annulment could be an option.

Cases involving bigamy or one of the spouses still having a legal marriage to someone else at the time of the new marriage would also qualify for annulment. A marriage where one spouse is mentally incompetent could end an annulment, as could marriages that began due to fraud or force, such as a threat to an individual or their family members. Finally, annulment can be an option in scenarios in which people never consummate the marriage. A successful annulment will effectively make it as though the marriage never occurred because it was never lawful.

Dissolution ends of marriage through mutual consent

Although divorce is a litigated process, dissolution is a consensual, often amicable process. Those pursuing a marital dissolution in Ohio have to agree that the end of the marriage is necessary and must also agree on all major terms. Spouses typically need to settle issues involving financial support, child custody and property division to qualify for a dissolution. Unlike with an annulment, dissolution ends a marriage rather than negating it in a legal sense. For many couples, dissolution is the more practical way to end a legally valid union.

Ultimately, seeking legal guidance and learning about the different ways to end a marriage in Ohio can help people choose the right path forward for their families.