Are you considering ending your relationship with your spouse? If so, you may be wondering about annulment in Texas, whether you qualify, and how it’s different than traditional divorce. The divorce attorneys at Balekian Hayes, PLLC of Dallas understand that this is likely a difficult, confusing, and emotional time in your life and that you probably have many questions about the process. That’s why we’ve prepared this guide to answer the ones you might have about annulment vs. divorce in Texas.
What Are the Grounds for Divorce in Texas?
Divorce is the most common method for dissolving a marriage in Texas. The state recognizes both fault-based and no-fault divorces. A no-fault divorce means that both spouses agree to dissolve their marriage without placing blame on either party or their actions. The only grounds you need to prove are that the marriage has broken down, and there is no chance for reconciliation.
Fault-based divorces are another option for couples looking to end their marriages in Texas. A fault-based divorce means that a partner’s actions irrevocably dissolve the marriage, and there is no chance of repairing it. Texas recognizes several grounds for seeking a fault-based divorce, namely:
- Felony conviction
- Living apart
- Confinement in a mental health facility
Whether you are pursuing a fault-based or no-fault divorce in Texas, the law requires that one or both partners live in the state for at least six months before filing. Unlike other states, Texas does not require you to live separately from your spouse before beginning the divorce process.
What Is an Annulment?
Divorce is the process of dissolving a legally valid marriage. An annulment, on the other hand, means you are asking the court to deem the marriage invalid, making it like the marriage never happened in the first place.
There are significant differences between divorce and annulment. For example, when a marriage ends due to annulment, it is as though it never happened. Consequently, spouses are not necessarily subject to the complications of divorce, such as the division of property, debts, and assets. And since an annulment voids a marriage, prenuptial agreements are also invalid.
What Are the Grounds for an Annulment in Texas?
While it might be a great way to wipe the slate clean, getting Texas courts to null and void a marriage through annulment can be challenging. You must meet certain criteria to prove that the marriage should never have happened. In Texas, a spouse may have grounds for an annulment under the following circumstances:
- The other spouse did not disclose their impotence to the petitioner
- The petitioner was subject to fraud, duress, or force
- One or both parties were over 16 but under 18 at the time of marriage
- The petitioner was under the influence of alcohol or narcotics at the time of the marriage
- The petitioner was mentally incapacitated at the time of marriage
- The other spouse concealed a recent divorce from the petitioner
- The marriage occurred within 72 hours after a marriage license was issued
In addition to the grounds for annulment, Texas also allows couples to ask a judge to declare a marriage void under the following conditions:
- Consanguinity or incest
- Marriage to a minor
- Marriage to a stepchild or stepparent
- Marriage during the existence of prior marriage
The grounds and steps to void a marriage differ from those of annulment. An experienced Dallas divorce attorney can help you understand the distinctions between an annulment and a marriage void and which option may work for you, then pursue your petition on your behalf.
Why Would You Choose an Annulment Over a Divorce?
There are several reasons you might prefer an annulment to divorce. One is that an annulment, if you qualify for one, essentially voids a marriage. That means you may not be required to divide property and assets according to Texas’s community property rules. This may be of special interest to those looking to avoid a high-asset divorce. However, when children are involved, an annulment can become complicated.
Additionally, some people wish to seek an annulment due to their religious or social beliefs. An annulment erases a marriage, so the marriage never took place. This route may be more socially acceptable to those who practice religions with a restriction on divorce, or those whose families do.
The primary benefit of a divorce relative to an annulment is that there are far fewer restrictions on who can apply. Spouses can file a fault or no-fault-based divorce, meaning you can end a marriage for a specific reason or no reason other than irreconcilable differences. In the case of an annulment, your marriage must meet particular conditions before a judge agrees to void it.
Does a divorce or an annulment suit your needs? A seasoned Dallas divorce attorney can help you understand your options by reviewing your unique case, evaluating your marriage’s circumstances, and advising you on paths forward. Ending a marriage is rarely easy. With the help of an experienced and compassionate Dallas divorce attorney, you have the support and legal advice you need to come out the other side stronger.
Contact a Skilled Dallas Divorce Attorney for Help with Your Case
At Balekian Hayes, PLLC, we want to support you during this challenging time, and that starts by helping you to understand all your options. We know this is one of the most challenging times of your life. That’s why we will provide you not just with forward-thinking legal representation but with compassion, honesty, and care.
Are you considering dissolving your marriage? Discuss your situation with a skilled Dallas divorce attorney you can trust. Contact our office to arrange a confidential legal consultation, and let our team guide you toward the marriage-ending option that best meets your needs and addresses your goals.