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Orlando Criminal Attorney > Blog > Family > What Is The Difference Between Annulment, Divorce, And Legal Separation?

What Is The Difference Between Annulment, Divorce, And Legal Separation?


There are many ways to end a marriage in Florida, and it does not always include divorce. While divorce is the right option for some, other people choose to end their marriage through a legal separation or an annulment. If you are thinking about divorce, it is important to know all your options first, as it may affect you in the coming years.

What is Divorce?

Divorce is a legal way to dissolve a marriage. Generally speaking, any married couple that wishes to end their marriage can do so by getting a divorce. Some states require the spouse filing for divorce to prove their partner was at fault for the breakdown of the marital relationship. However, Florida is a no-fault divorce state, which means one person in the marriage can simply state the marriage is irretrievably broken. The other spouse does not have to agree with the divorce in order for it to proceed.

Although Florida makes it relatively easy to obtain a divorce, the process will still involve many complex issues. Property division, child custody, and alimony are just a few of these. The issues of divorce are settled out of court in the majority of cases. If a settlement cannot be reached, the case will go to trial, during which a judge will make the final decision on the terms.

What is Annulling a Marriage?

When a marriage is annulled in Florida, the marriage is declared null and void and it is essentially as though it never happened. Unlike divorce, there are only certain reasons a couple can seek an annulment. Any party seeking an annulment must prove:

  • Impotence
  • Lack of, or inability to, consent
  • Incest
  • Bigamy
  • Underage spouses
  • Fraud, duress, or misrepresentation

What is a Legal Separation?

The Florida Statutes do not recognize legal separation. However, in states that recognize it, legal separation is a legal process that involves the spouses living separate and apart, but they are still married. Couples that are legally separated cannot get remarried until they have obtained a divorce or annulment.

Due to the fact that Florida does not recognize legal separations, couples cannot obtain one in the Sunshine State. However, an Orlando family lawyer can draft a postnuptial agreement that outlines terms such as property division and alimony. This document can then serve as an outline for couples that do not want to get a divorce, but also do not want to continue living as a married couple.

Sometimes, a couple may not want to end their marriage for religious purposes, or other reasons, such as being listed as a beneficiary on a spouse’s health insurance. A legal separation, or a postnuptial agreement, can provide a solution in these instances.

Our Family Lawyer in Orlando Can Advise You of Your Options

If you are thinking about ending your marriage, our Orlando family lawyer at O’Mara Law Group can advise on your case and the options available. Call us today at 407-634-6604 or fill out our online form to schedule a consultation and to learn more about how we can help.

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