A divorce and an annulment are similar legal proceedings to end a marriage, however the final results are very different from one another. A divorce is the dissolution of a valid marriage and an annulment is a legal decree that declares a marriage was never valid to begin with. Unlike divorce, which simply terminates an existing marriage, an annulment voids the marriage as if it never existed.
There are many more circumstances under which a couple can seek a divorce than circumstances that warrant an annulment. Furthermore, unlike grounds for divorce, the unique grounds for an annulment are rarely met.
Grounds for an Annulment in Georgia
In Georgia, a marriage must have been prohibited by law or lacked the qualifications to be valid in the first place. There are only a few uncommon and unusual circumstances in which an annulment would be granted. The following are grounds for an annulment in Georgia:
- One or both spouses did not have the mental capacity to enter into a marriage contract.
- One or both spouses were under the age of 16 when they entered into the marriage.
- One of the spouses was married to another living spouse at the time of the marriage.
- The spouses are related by blood or marriage, such as parent/stepparent and child, or aunt and nephew.
- One spouse was forced into the marriage.
- One spouse was coerced by fraud into the marriage. Examples of fraud include lying about ability to have children and concealing a sexually transmitted disease or drug addiction.
In Georgia, the fact that a marriage is brief is not grounds for an annulment. A short-lived marriage must also include one of the circumstances listed above to qualify for an annulment. If the spouses have any children together, or are pregnant, the marriage is likely not eligible for an annulment and the couple will need to proceed with a divorce.
Annulment proceedings are similar to that of a divorce. The spouse seeking an annulment must first file in superior court and serve the annulment petition to the other party. Both parties must attend a scheduled court hearing, and there must be evidence to prove there are legal grounds for the annulment. Unlike a divorce, in annulment proceedings a final judgment and decree can be granted thirty days after the opposing party has been served. After thirty days, either spouse can legally remarry.
Other Things to Consider
In order to file for an annulment in Georgia, you must have lived in Georgia for six months, and you must file in the county in which you reside. Since annulments void a marriage as if it never existed, the court will not award post annulment alimony and will likely not divide marital property. Temporary alimony could be requested, but not permanent alimony. Unlike a divorce, if the respondent fails to answer the petition or contest within 30 days of service, the court may enter an order granting an annulment without a hearing.
The process of getting an annulment can be very precarious, and it’s important that you fully understand your options. If you are considering moving forward with an annulment, or a divorce, it’s imperative that you consult with an experienced attorney before moving forward.
The attorneys at Andersen, Tate & Carr have the experience, compassion, and knowledge to make the process as easy as possible. We’ve helped countless individuals through this difficult process and are committed to achieving the best possible outcome. Contact Trinity Hundredmark today for a free, no-obligation consultation.