Married couples in Florida have two options to legally dissolve a marriage – divorce and annulment. The result of these processes is the irrevocable end of the marriage. However, there is still a significant difference between divorce and annulment.
The divorce is a marriage termination, which implies that this marriage was legal and valid. On the other hand, the annulment indicates that the marriage is invalid and should have never existed.
What Qualifies for an Annulment in Florida?
Florida law distinguishes between void and voidable marriages, and they can be annulled. A void marriage is considered invalid from the moment of its registration. A voidable marriage is legal but may be proven as void and be subject to Florida annulment under specific circumstances, as will be described further in the text.
How to Get an Annulment in Florida?
Getting an annulment for the parties is only possible if their marriage meets the criteria established by the court. To initiate the process, the plaintiff must file an annulment petition and other Florida annulment forms with one of the Florida circuit courts. In the petition, they should indicate why the marriage is void or voidable and back up their claims with the evidence. The official annulment of a marriage occurs when the spouses receive a relevant court order.
Grounds for Annulment vs. Divorce in Florida
An annulment process can only start when a statutory circumstance is present in the case. What are the grounds for an annulment? In Florida, these are:
- Bigamy – one of the spouses is already legally married. Marriage laws in Florida prohibit marriages to two or more people (polygamy) simultaneously.
- Consanguinity– the spouses are blood relatives. Marriages between parents and children, brothers and sisters, and cousins are forbidden by law.
- Mental incapacity– one of the spouses could not give knowledgeable consent to the marriage being under the influence of alcohol or drugs or due to a temporary/permanent mental problem or incapacity.
All void marriages can be annulled. Moreover, such marriages cannot be legalized even when both spouses want it.
For voidable marriages, the annulment requirements in Florida are:
- Underage– one or both spouses are minors, and their parents’ consent was not obtained for the marriage.
- Duress– one or both spouses were forced into marriage by duress, pressure, or coercion.
- Fraud– one of the spouses tricked the other into marrying through fraudulent activities and concealment of facts that could influence the other partner’s decision to marry.
- Impotency– one of the spouses was unaware that the other spouse had such a physical problem before the marriage.
As for divorce, Florida is a no-fault divorce state, which means that spouses do not have to prove wrongdoing on the part of the other partner for marriage dissolution. They have to file for divorce based on one of these legal grounds for divorce in Florida:
- The marriage is irretrievably broken. Spouses admit that their relationships are over and cannot be saved.
- Mental incapacity. One of the spouses can no longer care for themselves or make important decisions concerning their affairs. They must be declared legally incapacitated for a period of at least three years before the divorce is initiated.
Timing of Annulment vs. Divorce
Florida legislation does not specify a time frame for obtaining an annulment. However, it is recommended not to delay the process and initiate it as soon as circumstances that make the marriage void or voidable have been identified. First of all, this is due to the fact that the longer such a marriage exists, the more difficult it will be to collect evidence of its invalidity in the future.
As for divorce, spouses can start this procedure at any stage of their married life. Divorce timings will depend on the complexity of the case and the number of contentious issues that the parties have to resolve (child custody, division of property, etc.) A simplified divorce in Florida usually takes 30 days, while an uncontested divorce process may last from 4 to 6 weeks. As for the contested case, its duration can be from 6 months to several years.
How Long Does an Annulment Take?
Annulment time frames in Florida are typically 30-45 days. In some situations, this process can take up to six months in cases where one of the parties disputes the annulment of a voidable marriage. Thus, additional trials would be needed, which, in the end, will increase the duration of the annulment. The primary condition for a marriage to be annulled is that the annulment requirements in Florida, described in the previous sections, are met.
How Long Does Divorce Take in Florida?
The duration of the divorce process in Florida directly depends on its type:
- simplified divorce – a little over 30 days;
- uncontested divorce – around 4 months;
- contested divorce – from 6 months to several years.
Please note that these are the average numbers, which can differ depending on personal or court-related factors.
The Florida divorce waiting period is 20 days, mandatory for all types of divorces. This timeline begins after one spouse files the divorce petition.
Outcomes of Annulment and Divorce
The main difference between annulment and divorce is as follows:
- After an annulment, the marriage is treated as if it never legally existed.
- After a divorce, former marriage partners may still have obligations to each other, for example, spousal support.
In a divorce, much attention is paid to the division of marital property and the establishment of custody. A marriage annulment in Florida, on the contrary, does not provide for the payment of alimony and division of assets, debts, and real estate. However, the court can still issue orders concerning custody matters and child support.
As for the annulment cost, it can vary from $500 to $5,000 and depends on the specifics of the case. The final price increases a lot if the other spouse files a motion to reject the annulment, leading to additional expenses like lawyer fees.
The divorce price differs in each particular case. On average, the cost of uncontested divorce without an attorney is about $600; with the participation of an attorney – from $ 3,000 to $ 5,000. A contested divorce in Florida is an expensive process, where each party is likely to pay from $5,000 up to $20,000.