Separations, Annulment And Divorce: What's The Difference?

17 December 2015
 Categories: , Articles


When it comes to relationships, sometimes they must end. In the case of married couples, this arrangement is a bit more complex. This is due to the fact that your legal status as either married or single changes during this period of time. Separations, annulment, and divorce are three different forms of changing your relationship status as a married individual. What are the differences between the three of them, however? Throughout the course of this article, you will learn what the differences are.


Separations are the easiest of the three to describe. The fact of the matter is, a separation will not necessarily change your legal status. When you are separated, you are still considered a married person and you do not have to go through any sort of bureaucratic series of events in order to change your marital status.

Separations are generally events that people experience when they believe that they can eventually work through their marital issues or for people that know that divorce is inevitable but no longer desire to consider themselves married to one another.

Separated individuals usually do not live with one another and their children split their time equally between the two parents until a legal status can be decided and custody of the children can be officially decided.


Divorcing tends to be bit more high stakes than a separation and, of course, changes your marital legal status. A divorce is a phenomenon that ends a marriage before the death of a spouse. A court will sufficiently resolve issues revolving around assets, spousal support and child custody.

After your divorce has been finalized, you are able to enter into other domestic partnerships or other things that your legal status as a married person would have prevented you from doing during this time.

There are two main types of divorce, generally speaking, a no-fault divorce or a fault-based divorced. A no-fault divorce is when both parties agree that neither party is responsible for the divorce itself (or both parties are equally responsible), and as such, this makes for a much more amicable experience. Valid reasons for a no-fault divorce are many and may include things like irreconcilable differences and loss of affection.

Fault-based divorces are a much more headache inducing series of events and liability must be proven during these events. These usually require long waiting periods in order to decide child custody and adequate divisions of assets. Grounds for getting a fault-based divorce are usually harder to obtain, and you must usually prove something along the lines of an experience of adultery, domestic abuse or drug and alcohol abuse.


An annulment is a legal decree that the marriage is considered null and void. In some people's terms, they consider this to mean that the marriage "never happened" so to speak. A divorce ends a marriage, in other words, and an annulment will treat the marriage as if it never happened in the first place.

There are some legal ramifications and consequences of this status, however. Although much remains the same – for example, you are now free to enter into other domestic relationships and the court will still have to preside over dividing your assets and deciding on the status of child custody issues – there will be no trace in your legal records of you having been married.

The grounds for annulment have to be very specific and not just any couple can decide that they want to have an annulment. Rather, the relationship had to have been incestuous, bigamous, or coerced in order to receive an annulled status.

There are many differences between separation, divorce and annulment. If you are looking into one of these three things for your relationship, contact a family law or divorce attorney to help you navigate the legalities of ending your marriage.