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The difference between annulment and divorce

Most readers will be aware that there are laws in every state covering marriage and divorce. What might be somewhat more surprising to some is that states also have provisions in law outside of divorce for nullifying marriages.

If you grew up in the Catholic tradition, you may be familiar with the idea of seeking an annulment. This is the process where a tribunal is asked to declare that a wedding in the church never actually fulfilled the requirements of the sacrament and was therefore invalid. In the eyes of the church, no marriage occurred. It should not be surprising that annulments are not supposed to be easy to get.

Annulments are also possible under state law. The distinct difference between annulment and divorce is the issue of validity. Divorce is the means by which a couple ends a marriage that was entered into legally. If it can be shown that the wedding should never have been allowed, it might be annulled by the court.

Grounds for invalidating an Ohio marriage

In Ohio, the standards that invalidate a marriage are clear. They include:

  • If one or both of the parties was underage at the time of the union
  • If one or the other party never dissolved a previous marriage
  • Evidence of mental incapacity of one party
  • If the consent to marriage followed force or fraud
  • The couple never consummated the union through physical relations

As the second point above suggests, Ohio law doesn't allow bigamy. It also prohibits marriage with any relative closer than a second cousin.

One other thing that distinguishes annulment from divorce in Ohio is that in most cases an annulment must be sought within two years of the marriage date.

The variety of choice that exists for ending an Ohio marriage can make things confusing. To get answers to questions you might have, consult an experienced family law attorney.

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