Divorce vs. Annulment | Minnesota Law

September 18, 2017

in Minnesota Annulment, Minnesota Divorce

Divorce vs. Annulment in MinnesotaEverybody knows that marriage is complicated and that the path each couple takes in dissolving their marriage is different. No two couples will experience the same struggles, be it financial or emotional.

Though there are many paths that couples might take, they all end in one of only two ways. Every marriage will end in either 1) a divorce or 2) annulment. Whats the different between these two approaches? When might one be better than the other? To learn more about divorce and annulments, keep reading.


First things first, lets explain what a divorce is. According to a strict definition, divorce exists to facilitate the dissolution of a marriage. Divorce operates under the premise that a valid marriage occurred and, for whatever reason, the parties to that marriage no longer wish to remain in a legal relationship with one another. A divorce then facilitates the breaking of those legal ties that bind the couple together, undoing what the marriage did.

Annulment is an entirely different approach. Annulments exist to erase the record of a marriage, not to unwind a valid marriage. Annulments take place when the marriage itself is flawed in some fundamental way. Rather than breaking up, an annulment simply wipes the slate clean. The marriage isnt a thing of the past like in divorce, with an annulment it never happened in the first place.


Weve discussed the grounds for divorce previously. Though fault-based divorce still requires showing that one of the spouses did something wrong (an affair would be a good example, or some kind of drug or alcohol addiction), the vast majority of divorces are no-fault. This means that no one party is to blame. The basis for the divorce is that the parties no longer wish to remain married. Thats it. Its flexible and has few restrictions.


The same is not true for annulments, which can only happen in very limited circumstances. A common basis for an annulment is that either party was already married to someone else when the marriage took place. Because bigamy isnt legal, this previous marriage immediately invalidates any subsequent attempted marriage, opening up the possibility of annulment. A lack of informed consent is another basis for annulling a marriage, either due to one partys mental illness or mental incapacity or due to the age of the party (a minor who is too young to be able to consent). Other examples of grounds for annulment include incest or inability to consummate the marriage.

Other differences

Another important difference between divorce and annulments is the timeline. Divorce can (and does) happen whenever. A couple could be together for weeks or decades and decide that theyre interested in divorcing. Annulment almost always happens quickly. After all, if a marriage is fundamentally flawed and the argument is that it was never valid, it is important that the marriage isnt long lasting. Though there is no hard and fast rule, annulments typically occur in the first year or two after marriage.

One crucial difference between divorce and annulments is that there is no equitable division process in an annulment. Though a big aspect of any divorce is determining what property is separate and what is marital, in an annulment the marriage isnt seen as valid, thus there is no marital property to speak of. The property is instead seen as separate and the two parties walk away with what they brought to the relationship. For this reason, there is no alimony or spousal support granted in an annulment, another difference with a divorce.

Divorce & Annulment Lawyers in Minnesota.

An experienced Minnesota family law attorney can help walk you through the difficult process of divorce, including offering advice on confusing financial issues such as alimony and helping negotiate emotional subjects like child custody arrangements. For more information on divorce in Minnesota, along with a variety of other topics, contact Joseph M. Flanders of Flanders Law Firm at (612) 424-0398.

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Joseph Flanders of Flanders Law Firm LLC is a family law and estate planning lawyer. For further information, check out his website or you can contact him by sending an email

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