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The Difference between Divorce, Annulment and Void Marriages

While divorce, annulment and void marriages all end a marriage, there are legal differences between the three.

Divorce

Divorce is appropriate for couples who were legally married and want to dissolve the marriage. Valid marriages under Texas law meet all legal requirements from the outset. Once the divorce is final, the courts still recognize that a marriage had previously existed, but that it has been dissolved.

Annulment

By comparison, an annulment is a voidable marriage. A party to a voidable marriage can present evidence that offer reasons for annulment, such as the individual was underage and had not received proper consent from parents or guardians; or marriage occurred under fraud, duress, or force and therefore never was consensual. Other grounds for annulment based on unknown impotency about the other party or mental illness also make the marriage eligible for annulment. These grounds allow parties to annul the marriage, dissolving a marriage that initially appeared valid. Provided that the party did not continue to co-habit after making the discovery of the marriage defect, courts will grant an annulment. Yet, had cohabitation continued, or the party waited beyond a specified time limitation, the court would not grant annulment. An example is the Texas Family Code Section, Underage Annulment Barred by Adulthood. After underage individuals reach the age of 18, courts can no longer annul the marriage based on underage marriage grounds.

Void marriages

A void marriage is one in which marriage validity never existed at all, nor will the courts ever deem it valid under any circumstances based on existing Texas statutes. Examples of void marriages include marriages between blood or otherwise related persons, bigamy, or same sex-marriages. In the eyes of Texas courts, couples in void marriages simply are not married and never were married.

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Robert Reid McInvale
Attorney at Law

Robert Reid McInvale is an experienced family law attorney with a comprehensive practice in Houston. He provides dedicated and strong advocacy for his clients, helping them with all the issues surrounding their divorce, separation, child custody, and other marriage and family matters. Attorney McInvale—Reid to clients and friends—seemed destined for a law career. Born while his father was attending Emory University Law School, Reid grew up in Manchester, GA. His father was the city attorney for many years, as well as head of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce. It is in the family blood to become lawyers and help people get justice. U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall is part of the McInvale family tree.

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