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Every annulment I have done, compared to divorces, have all gone through. It's very simple.

Divorce, Annulment: What's the Difference?

Divorce, Annulment: What's the Difference?

States Can Allow Pam Anderson's Marriage -- or Yours -- to Be Annulled


    Wish your marriage had never existed? Former "Baywatch" star Pamela Anderson has decided to pursue that option against husband Rick Salomon, citing fraud, though she did not provide any details for the charge.

Anderson filed for a divorce two months ago, but now has changed her mind and wants an annulment. And if a judge agrees, Anderson can simply act like the marriage to Salomon, who starred in a sex tape with Paris Hilton, never took place.

Depending on the circumstances of your union, you might be able to do the same. All 50 states offer married couples the option of an annulment depending on the facts surrounding their relationship. “Annulment does mean you were never married. In fact, New Jersey calls it ‘an action for nullity,’ meaning that you are essentially nullifying the marriage. It’s null and void. It never existed,” New Jersey-based family law attorney Mark S. Guralnick said.  

In contrast, a divorce indicates a marriage did exist, but fell apart. According to Guralnick, most people mistakenly assume a divorce and an annulment are essentially synonymous. That, however, is not true. 

“In a divorce, the spouses are entitled to make claims for alimony, spousal support or maintenance and to divide the property they acquired during their marriage (pursuant to the community property or equitable distribution laws of that state), Gurlanick said. “If they were married, they may be entitled to certain tax, insurance, and social security benefits.” 

In the case of an annulment, with some exceptions, the spouses lose certain rights. “If the marriage was annulled, and thus never existed, then there is no right to alimony or support … no right to division of property acquired during the marriage,” Guralnick said. “You walk away with whatever you brought to the marriage.”  

Guralnick said that even though an annulment erases the union and prohibits the spouses from claiming property division or financial support, the court will still enforce its generally equity jurisdiction. 

“For example, if Betty and Bill sign a one-year lease on an apartment which they begin occupying as newlyweds, and then the marriage is annulled because Betty failed to disclose that she’s infertile and Bill thought they would have kids together, then neither party can claim the typical divorce rights, such as alimony and equitable distribution of property,” Guralnick said. “However, the court will probably – equitably – make them both divide the responsibility for the lease and work out some other equitable arrangement based on who continues occupying the apartment. If they have children together, they’ll still be dealing with the issues of custody, visitation, child support and health insurance for the kids – regardless of whether Betty and Bill were ever married, or whether their marriage was annulled or they were divorced.”  


According to Guralnick, newly married couples looking to end their marriage are more likely to seek an annulment. “Getting an annulment usually involves newer marriages, and often the procedure is quicker, but not in every case,” he said. “A person who is married for 20 years to a man who forgot to divorce his first wife is probably entitled to an annulment of the second marriage, irrespective of the passage of time.” 

Grounds for annulment vary by state, however some of the common grounds for an annulment include:  

1. Bigamy -- Being married to more than one person at the same time.
2. Failure to consummate the marriage or impotence or other such problems preventing consummation.
3. Married under the influence of drugs or alcohol or some mental disability.
4. Too young to get married or some other statutory deficiency.
5. Fraud or fraudulent inducement.

Guralnick cited several situations that are deemed grounds for annulment. “One of my annulment cases involved a Pennsylvania woman who answered the door one day to find federal marshals with a warrant for her husband’s arrest. It turns out he was a fugitive who had escaped from a New Mexico prison and conveniently forgot to mention it to his wife. She filed for annulment on the theory that the entire marriage was induced by the fraudulent concealment of his fugitive status,” Guralnick said.

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