Melinda Weerts Law, PLLC Family & Divorce Law
To talk to an experienced family law attorney about your case,
please call our Fargo office at 701-297-2234

Finding Positive Solutions For Your
Family Law Concerns

What’s the difference between divorce and annulment?

On Behalf of | Aug 16, 2023 | Divorce |

Though the vast majority of marriage dissolutions in North Dakota happen through divorce, there is another option in some instances. Getting your marriage annulled may be more common in soap operas than in real life, but state law does allow annulments in limited situations.

Curious about where the line between divorce and annulment lies? Read on.

Divorce vs. annulment

The basic difference between divorce and annulment is that a divorce legally dissolves a marriage, and an annulment is an order stating that, legally speaking, the marriage never happened. This can sound like a subtle difference, but it may have important financial implications for ending your marriage. If the considers your marriage never to have happened, you cannot have acquired marital property. Everything you own would then belong to you or your spouse solely, not jointly between the two of you.

Only allowed in a few cases

In North Dakota, an annulment is only possible in certain situations:

  • One of the spouses was under 18 when the marriage began and could not give legal consent.
  • One spouse was already married to somebody else when the marriage began.
  • One spouse was not of sound mind at the time of marriage.
  • Consent to marry was obtained by fraud or force.
  • One spouse was physically unable to enter into the marriage at the time it began, the condition continued after the marriage and appears to be incurable.
  • The marriage is incestuous under North Dakota law, including marriage between first cousins.

Note that the length of the marriage does not automatically allow or deny annulment. Someone married for a week without any of these conditions present cannot get their marriage annulled, while somebody married for two years with at least one of these conditions being true will likely qualify for annulment.

Divorce must be done right

Obviously, these are unusual circumstances. Most people in Fargo who want to end their marriage will do so through no-fault divorce. This does not require you to prove your spouse caused your relationship to break down. But getting divorced can be a complicated process involving complex property division, a carefully tailored child custody plan and more. Representation from an experienced and caring divorce attorney is necessary to ensure the best possible outcome.

FindLaw Network