When Washington couples marry, they are hoping for a happily ever after. However, it does not always work out. In those cases, they have two options for ending the marriage. Depending on a variety of factors, couples who want to end their union can opt for a divorce or an annulment.
Which option should you choose?
While both divorce and annulment end a legal marriage, they do so in different ways. When a couple chooses a divorce, they accept that the marriage existed and has ended. When an annulment is sought, the couple is asking the court to void the marriage as if it never had existed in the first place.
Reasons to seek and receive an annulment
Often, people assume very short marriages can be automatically ended with an annulment. However, there are specific reasons under which an annulment might be granted. These include:
- At least one of the spouses was a minor who could not legally wed
- One of the spouses was unaware of secret circumstances, such as child or drug abuse
- The marriage was illegal, such as due to an incestuous relationship or bigamy
- At least one of the spouses was coerced into marrying
- At least one of the spouses was unable to consciously agree to the marriage, such as due to mental health issues or substance abuse
Reasons to seek and receive a divorce
Divorce is a much more common option for dissolving a marriage. In all states, couples can seek a divorce for irreconcilable differences. Other reasons include abandonment, domestic violence or adultery. As well, unlike an annulment, divorce also means that the couple must negotiate issues such as the division of assets and spousal support.
Annulments are very specific, requiring meeting a strict legal burden and clear evidence. Divorces, however, are more common and easier to prove, particularly when couples are able to choose a no-fault divorce option.