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Can I have my marriage annulled instead of divorcing?

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The short answer is yes, it is possible to get an annulment instead of a divorce, but there are some things to consider before you seek annulment. While the end result of both options is the same, they are not equal in the eyes of the law. In an annulment, the marriage is virtually erased as if it never even existed and couples must meet certain qualifications in order to have a marriage annulled.

One of the reasons seek annulment instead of divorce is because of religious reasons. For a person who is catholic, a diocesan tribunal instead of a court will decide if the marriage should be annulled. The tribunal bases its decision on whether the marriage was lacking in some form from its very beginning. Grounds the tribunal will consider include a lack of: maturity, honesty, emotional stability and several others.

In some cases, couples can consider a civil marriage annulment which a court has the power to grant. To qualify for this, a marriage must have at least one of the following elements:

-- Fraud or misrepresentation: For example, one of the spouses lied to the other about his or her ability to have children.

-- Misunderstanding: This requires a major misunderstanding. The example for this also centers around children as in one spouse wants children and learns that the other spouse does not.

-- Lack of consent: If one spouse was incapacitated in any way at the time of the marriage, an annulment may be granted.

-- Concealment: Concealing a major issue like impotency or the presence of a sexually transmitted disease could be ample grounds for annulment.

While not everyone can qualify for annulment, it could be an option in your case. Your next step is scheduling a consultation with a family law attorney serving residents of Illinois.

Source: FindLaw, "How Marriage Annulments Differ from Divorces and the Grounds for Obtaining a Marriage Annulment," accessed Feb. 29, 2016

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