What Is the Difference Between an Annulment and Divorce in Greenville?

Greenville, SC, couples wanting to end their marriage have two options: divorce or annulment. The best way to make the right decision is to consult a Greenville divorce attorney. For those who are not yet ready to take the step, some general information may help.


Different Ways to End a Marriage in SC: Annulment vs. Divorce

By definition, an annulment is a legal procedure that cancels a marriage. It basically erases the record, allowing the spouses to return to their premarital status. A divorce only puts an end to the marriage. It does not cancel its existence or effects.

The choice between the two options should depend on the particularities of each case. Couples facing such a dilemma should discuss their case with a Greenville divorce lawyer. The reasons for this are numerous. The main one is that both procedures impose certain conditions and have specific repercussions. The best person to explain those and recommend a solution is an experienced divorce attorney. We will cover the basics in the following lines.


Aspects a Greenville Divorce Lawyer Will Explain to Clients Considering an Annulment

1. Separations Grounds

Anyone filing for annulment or divorce has to justify their action. This means providing reasons and supporting them with evidence. For annulments, South Carolina laws allow the following grounds:

  • Bigamy – One of the parties was already married.
  • Duress – One of the parties got married against their will.
  • Fraud – One of the spouses hid insanity, impotence, or infertility.
  • Mental incompetence – One of the spouses is mentally unable to understand and consent to marriage.
  • Incest – The relationship between the spouses is closer than that between first cousins.
  • Underage – At least one of the spouses is younger than 16.
  • Lack of cohabitation – The marriage did not consummate or the spouses never lived together.

For divorce, South Carolina laws allow five grounds:

  • Adultery – one of the spouses cheats on their partner.
  • Habitual alcohol or narcotics abuse – one of the spouses abuses drugs or alcohol frequently.
  • Physical cruelty – one of the spouses physically abuses the other one (beatings, sexual abuse).
  • One-year desertion – One of the spouses abandons the other one for more than one year.
  • No-fault one-year separation – One party chooses to divorce even though their spouse never committed the above. For the court to admit no-fault divorce, the parties must have lived separately for at least one year.


2. Religious Implications

Some religions consider marriage a lifelong commitment. The only way members can remarry is to obtain an annulment of their first marriage. The divorcee of such a religion can only remarry legally, not religiously.


3. Financial Implications

Asset distribution is one of the main factors influencing annulment vs. divorce decisions. An annulment renders the marriage void but does not always cancel the spouses’ financial responsibilities. Upon pronouncing a marriage annulled, the court will also rule on asset distribution and alimony.

Generally, annulments are a good way to avoid high alimony payments and sharing assets. However, at-fault divorces can have favorable terms as well. The best way to choose between the two options is a discussion with a Greenville divorce lawyer. Before making any recommendations, the latter will consider several aspects:

  • How long the marriage lasted. The longer the marriage lasted, the more difficult getting an annulment will be.
  • Whether the couple lived together and consummated the marriage. If they did, getting an annulment could be impossible.
  • The financial situation of each spouse. Annulments benefit rich spouses, while divorces tend to favor poor spouses.
  • The reasons for wanting to end the marriage. As shown above, each option has different grounds.
  • The available evidence. The court’s decision will depend not on the spouses’ claims, but on what they can prove.

Experienced divorce lawyers help clients not only with advice and formalities but also with evidence. They help document spouse fraud or adultery and negotiate separation terms.  In everything they do, they keep their clients’ best interests at heart.


Annulment vs. Divorce – Let a Greenville SC Divorce Attorney Help You Choose!

If you want to end your marriage and you do not know which option is right, we can help! Greenville Family Law divorce lawyer Robert Clark has handled numerous annulment and divorce cases. He will review your case and advise you on the best course of action. To schedule a consultation, call (864) 729-3900 or use the online contact form. You are one step away from receiving the answers and guidance you need!