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Do Courts Divide Property in an Annulment?

The Difference Between Annulment and Divorce

Annulment is very different from divorce. Divorce acknowledges that the marriage occurred. It was a part of your life, and it remains on your record.

Annulment, by contrast, invalidates a marriage.It essentially erases the marriage from your record, denying its existence.

A court grants an annulment only under certain conditions. For example, one spouse may have been underage at the time of the marriage. Maybe one party was already legally married, and the other discovered this fact later. Perhaps one spouse defrauded the other, using a false identity to lure them into the marriage. Effectively, an annulment declares that the marriage never should have happened in the first place.

Divorce recognizes that, as a married couple, spouses were once family members. It wants to make sure that each member of that family is protected, allowed to smoothly transition into single life. That’s why courts make rulings on spousal support and property division.

An annulment basically leaves the spouses to their own devices. People don’t normally receive spousal support or other such protections.

Sometimes, a marriage can be annulled years after the wedding. For instance, someone may have been suffering from a mental disorder when they married. After they come to their senses, they realize that they don’t want this life, and they want their marriage annulled.

In a situation like this, couples can accumulate property over time, and the court must find a way to fairly divide it. Unlike a divorce, there aren’t many guidelines the court can use to make these decisions. They must take each annulment on a case-by-case basis.

Here are some ways a court could potentially handle property in an annulment.

Treating All Property Individually

A judge may simply give property to its original purchaser. If someone’s name is on the lease, they can keep the asset for themselves.

Handling Property Like a Business Break-Up

Even couples seeking an annulment could have accumulated joint property. The court can treat this property the same way it would for a business that’s shutting down.

Spouses could keep percentages of certain property, or the court could ask one spouse to buy the other out.

Using Property as Compensation

Annulments are usually the result of some form of deception. One spouse often discovers the truth later and demands an annulment.

In civil disputes, the court uses money and property to compensate someone for their injuries. Family court can often act the same way. This can happen even in a divorce. For example, the court may believe that someone was the victim of domestic abuse. It can order the abuser to hand over more property as a result.

Courts can do the same in an annulment. When they are convinced that one of the spouses was victimized, they can order the other to give them money or physical property as compensation.

If you believe that your marriage should be nullified, reach out to Singleton Smith Law Offices, Inc. today for a free consultation. We can work with you to help ensure you are treated fairly, receiving all the property you deserve. You can call our office at (951) 779-1610 or contact us online.