Divorce vs. Annulment

By Law Office of Karen S. Brown

Not all marriages work out, which is why couples drift apart and break up. Even in amicable splits, it’s helpful to have a skilled divorce attorney on your side. The Law Office of Karen S. Brown has helped countless residents of Encino, CA, Studio City, and Hancock Park with their divorces and annulments. Our goal is to make the process as pain-free as possible.

A number of our clients ask whether they can have their marriage annulled rather than filing for divorce. These are two separate processes that are often conflated. Let’s compare them and note the key differences.

What Is a Divorce?

Divorce refers to the legal end of marriage prior to the death of one of the spouses. Once the divorce is finalized in court, the two spouses are no longer considered married and are not legally bound to one another. At that point, the two spouses can marry or enter into domestic partnerships with new people.

What Is an Annulment?

An annulment is a court ruling that renders a marriage invalid from the outset. The annulment effectively means that the marriage never happened in the first place.

Do Child Support, Child Custody, and Alimony Apply to Annulment?


Like a divorce, matters related to child custody, child support, and alimony can be discussed during the annulment proceedings.

Ground for An Annulment

Grounds for an annulment are often quite specific. It’s common for an annulment to be sought in the following circumstances:

  • Coercion into marriage

  • Fraudulently led into marriage

  • One or both spouses are under the age of consent

  • One or both spouses are already married to someone else

  • Marriage while a spouse is intoxicated

  • Incest

In all of the above examples, there’s a unifying theme to annulment. The grounds of the marriage are unstable, or are founded on deception or coercion.

When Should I Consider an Annulment?

You should seek an annulment when a spouse or both spouses were unable to render legal consent for the marriage. You can also seek an annulment when a spouse hides information from you that would have made you unwilling to enter into marriage.

Consider the grounds for the marriage. If they are not stable due to legal reasons or fraudulence, chances are you can seek to annul the marriage.

When Should I Consider a Divorce?

A divorce can be sought in all other cases in which the grounds for marriage were legal but there are irreconcilable difference between spouses. Since California is a “no fault” divorce state, a person does not have to prove wrongdoing by their spouse to file for a divorce.

How a Marriage Law Attorney Can Help

Ending a marriage can be difficult, which is why it’s important to have skilled legal representation on your side. Working with a marriage law attorney, you can find out if you should have your marriage annulled or file for a divorce. We can help you through the process, whatever it may be, offering insight and advice to make the end of the marriage flow as smoothly as possible.

Learn More About Family Law

For more information about ending your marriage and how to deal with disputes with your former spouse, contact a skilled divorce, annulment, and marriage law attorney. You can reach the Law Office of Karen S. Brown in Los Angeles by calling. We are here to help you.