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What Are the Different Ways to Legally End Your Marriage?

When your marriage is at a low point, it can be difficult to decide what to do next. You may have a hard time understanding your options through the fog of your emotional distress.

This article is here to help you decide how to move forward. It will compare the different ways to end your marriage, helping to broaden your understanding.

A Divorce Ends a Marriage

When you get married, you are legally taking your spouse on as a family member. They automatically inherit your estate, and they share any property you purchase while married. A divorce ends that familial relationship.

Divorce draws a legal line in the sand. It says, “Here is the time that you were married, and here is the time when that marriage ended.” The marriage remains a part of your legal history.

An Annulment Invalidates a Marriage

Annulment works only when the marriage shouldn’t have happened in the first place. Something about the union was illegal at worst, or it was fraudulent at best.

Grounds for annulment include:

  • At least one spouse was already legally married.
  • At least one spouse lied about their identity, property, etc.
  • At least one spouse could not legally consent to the marriage.
  • At least one spouse was underage at the time of the marriage.
  • At least one spouse was forced into the marriage against their will.
  • The spouses are closely related (siblings, parents, grandparents, etc.).

Annulment essentially erases the marriage from your record. There is no property division, spousal support, or any other similar benefit. If the couple shares children, then the law treats both parties as single parents. There may be child support orders, but they are treated as if the couple had never been married.

Legal Separation Ends the Relationship

Separation may be difficult for many to understand. It is, by nature, a vague concept. Essentially, a couple realizes that it needs a break, but the people involved aren’t ready to completely end the marriage.

When you separate, you are still legally married.

From there, the “rules” of separation vary from couple to couple. Some stay in contact, but they use this time to create some distance and breathing room. Others use separation as a “test” divorce, seeing if being apart is what they really want. People can also treat separation like a full divorce. They live completely separate lives, and they consider themselves single.

There are benefits to keeping the marriage legally intact. For instance, spouses can still share healthcare benefits. Military families can enjoy special benefits by staying married as well.

Talk to An Attorney

Remember, your lawyer is not a psychologist, but they can still offer good advice. Tell your attorney your concerns and needs surrounding the end of your relationship. They will take a pragmatic, legal angle, but a good lawyer will pay attention to your emotional needs as well.

Together, you and your attorney can create a plan that benefits everyone. If your spouse is willing to get involved, your lawyer can facilitate mediation. In this process, your attorney works for you both. Neither spouse is trying to “win,” and both are negotiating terms that help the whole family.

If you need help deciding how to end your marriage, talk to one of our attorneys today. For a free consultation, contact us online or call us at (951) 779-1610.