Most people confuse annulment with divorce. Some people think that the two words mean the same thing. So, they use the world interchangeable. But annulment and divorce are two different legal words with different meaning. Therefore, they should not be used interchangeably. Divorce and annulment are two legal means of terminating or cancelling a marital union. Both actions occur in a court.

In annulment, the court declares a marriage none and void. It erases the legal union completely and declares that it has never existed from the beginning. This is where the difference between annulment and divorce lies. In divorce, the previous marriage is acknowledged by the court but due to some reasons accepted by the court, the union is terminated. Divorce is therefore a legal termination of a valid contracted marriage between two adults (adult here are people that have reached the constitutional marriage age which is normally stipulated in the constitution of a country). In annulment the reason for the cancelation of a marriage is based on its invalidity meaning that no marriage has taken place before or that the marriage took place in error, or should not have taken place at all.

The practice of annulment just like that of divorce differs from country to country. Each constitution has requirements that have to be met before a marriage is annulled. Any of the couple can file for annulment. However, the person or his or her attorney has to prove to the court that there is sufficient ground to declare the marriage null and void. If the arguments and evidences provided are considered sound and reasonable by the court, the marriage will be declared null and void. But if the court does not accept the arguments and evidences provided, the case will be struck out and the marriage will continue to exist.

Reasons for annulment

There are several reasons why a court can cancel a marriage and declare it null and void. But as it has been said, this depends on the constitution of a country. So, if you want to file for annulment, find out what the law says about it in your country. Here are some of the reasons for annulment

Bigamy: this occurs when a person is married to two persons at the same time. Bigamy can be a sufficient ground to file for annulment especially when this fact is hidden from the person filing for annulment.

Consenting to a marriage by force: a marriage can also be annulled if any of the partners was forced to consent to it or if any of the parties accepted the union under duress or threat.  

Deception: marriage can be annulled when any of the parties is deceived and the person entered into the marriage without knowing the truth. Deception or fraud is a sufficient ground to declare a marriage null and void.

Marriage not allowed by the law: marriage prohibited by law for one reason or the other can be annulled.

Other reasons for annulment of a marriage are:

·         mental incapacity

·         underage

·         inability to consummate the marriage

Reasons for divorce

Here are some grounds for divorce:

·         Adultery

·         Domestic abuse in all its forms including physical and emotional abuse

·         desertion