Annulment vs. Divorce
When seeking to terminate a marital relationship, a party may bring an action either to annul the marriage or to dissolve the marriage. A number of factors will have to be assessed in order to determine which approach is most appropriate. Any client considering ending their marriage should discuss their options with an annulment lawyer who has experience dealing with divorce, separation and annulment.
A number of Missouri statutes suggest that in certain situations, annulment is the only remedy available. These situations are:
- marriages between persons of close relationship;
- marriages where one of the parties did not satisfy the age requirement and did not obtain court approval;
- marriages in which one of the parties lacks mental capacity; and
- marriages of a common-law nature.
The statutory language indicates that such “marriages” are void; hence, there can be no dissolution of a marriage that was never validly formed.
On the other hand, situations exist in which either an annulment or a dissolution can be the appropriate remedy. For example, a man could seek an annulment if subsequent to the marriage he learned his wife was pregnant by another man. He could also seek a dissolution on the grounds that the marriage was irreparably broken.
When a party has the option to select either action, an attorney's strategy will obviously differ depending upon which party he represents. When representing a party who is entitled to maintenance, an attorney would obviously opt for a dissolution action, as maintenance is not available when a marriage is annulled. On the other hand, if you are the party who may ultimately have to pay a maintenance award, it may be in your best interest to seek to have the marriage annulled rather than dissolved. Some people desire the marriage to be annulled for religious reasons. When a marriage is annulled, it is as if the marriage never took place.
As in actions for dissolution of marriage (divorce), the court has wide discretion in awarding attorney fees. If you are separated or contemplating divorce from your spouse, you should contact an experienced St. Louis family law attorney to discuss your rights and options regarding divorce, annulment or legal separation to determine which option is best for you.
Contact Missouri Family Law Attorney Tonya D. Page at (314) 724-3529 or by email at email@example.com for an evaluation of your case.