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Can I get an annulment instead of a divorce?

Instead of a divorce, some people would rather have their marriages annulled. While divorce ends a marriage, annulment treats the marriage as though it never even happened. After an annulment, there are no enduring ties between the two people -- no permanent alimony payments, no divorce terms, nothing. Legally speaking, you've turned back time. However, receiving an annulment is quite rare in Georgia, and only certain couples qualify.

Who's Eligible For Annulment?

If you want to end a marriage in Georgia, the laws are tilted towards divorce. However, you may be able to annul the marriage in certain limited circumstances:

  • One spouse wasn't legally competent during the marriage ceremony, possibly because of drugs, alcohol, a medical condition or other reasons.
  • One spouse was underage and couldn't legally consent.
  • Someone forced or fraudulently misled one spouse into the marriage.
  • One spouse was still married to someone else at the time of the marriage.
  • The spouses are close relatives.

Even if one of these is true, it's possible that an annulment still might not be granted if you chose to remain in the marriage after discovering this fact.

Can I Get An Annulment If We Haven't Been Married Long?

No. In Georgia, the length of the marriage doesn't factor in to annulment eligibility.

Can I Get An Annulment If We Have Children?

No. Georgia law explicitly prohibits annulments if couples have children together or are pregnant. You can only terminate these marriages through divorce.

Will I Avoid Property Division Through Annulment?

No. You'd think that if a marriage never happened, then there would be no marital estate to divide. However, Georgia is unique in that judges who annul marriages will actually render judgments on property and debt division as well.

How Do I File For Annulment?

If you believe that you meet one of the requirements above, then annulment proceedings closely parallel those for divorce: collecting documents, filing a petition for annulment, serving it to the other spouse, etc. It's best to consult an attorney, especially since asset division and debt assignment will be at stake. You should understand the benefits and drawbacks of pursuing annulment instead of divorce. For some people, it's the right choice. Whether you're one of those people, though, requires a thorough understanding of your particular case.

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Hecht Family Law
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Alpharetta, GA 30004

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