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The Difference Between Divorce and Annulment

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If you’re contemplating ending your marriage, you might not be sure whether to pursue a divorce or an annulment. Are both options available to you? Which option best fits your situation? Understanding the difference between divorce and annulment is the key to knowing how to proceed. At the Law Offices of Craig L. Cook, our family law attorneys help our clients in Arkansas and Oklahoma pursue the actions that are appropriate for them. Scroll down to learn the key facts about divorce and annulment in both states.

What Is the Difference Between Divorce and Annulment?

In both Arkansas and Oklahoma, a divorce or dissolution is a legal decree ending a marriage before either spouse dies. A divorce might include a resolution of related issues, including the division of property, child custody, child support, and spousal support. Once a divorce is final, the spouses are not bound to each other legally and can marry other people.

An annulment is a legal decree that the marriage is void. This means that the marriage will be treated as if it never existed. Following an annulment, both parties will be single and free to marry others. During an annulment proceeding, the court may deal with related issues, including property division and child custody.

Grounds for Divorce in Arkansas

In Arkansas, the sole ground for a no-fault divorce is that the couple has lived separately for 18 months before filing. Other grounds for a divorce in Arkansas include the following under Ark. Code § 9-12-301:

  • Impotence
  • Habitual drunkenness of one or more years
  • Felony conviction
  • Cruel or inhumane treatment
  • Adultery
  • Insanity
  • Failure to support
  • Humiliation

Obtaining a divorce based on fault will require you to present evidence about one of the above-listed factors.

Grounds for Divorce in Oklahoma

Most divorces in Oklahoma are filed on a no-fault basis. However, Oklahoma lists specific fault grounds for divorce under 43 Okla. Stat. §43-101 as follows:

  • Impotency
  • Abandonment for one or more years
  • Adultery
  • Pregnancy by someone else at the time of marriage
  • Fraud
  • Cruelty
  • Habitual drunkenness
  • Felony conviction
  • Gross neglect
  • Insanity

Grounds for an Annulment in Arkansas

The grounds for an annulment in Arkansas are more limited than for a divorce. Under Ark. Code § 9-12-201, the grounds for annulment include the following:

  • Incapable of consent because of age or lack of understanding
  • Physical inability to enter the marriage
  • Force or fraud

This means that you can get an annulment if you were too young to consent to your marriage, have an intellectual disability that prevents you from consenting to a marriage, were too intoxicated at the time to legally consent, or your spouse was impotent and unable to consummate the marriage. You can also get your marriage annulled if your spouse used force or fraud to induce you to marry.

Grounds for an Annulment in Oklahoma

The grounds for an annulment are found in several statutes in Okla. Stat. Title 43 § 43-101 et. seq. These grounds include the following:

  • Younger than 18 at the time of the marriage
  • Mental incompetence
  • Bigamy
  • Marriage to someone new within six months of divorcing someone else

One of the biggest differences between divorce and annulment in both Oklahoma and Arkansas is that there are fewer grounds for getting an annulment than a divorce.

Consult the Law Offices of Craig L. Cook for Help

Deciding whether to pursue a divorce or an annulment is a personal decision if you are eligible for either process. Both options may include complex issues, including property division, debt division, child custody, support, and others. Requesting guidance from an experienced attorney may help you decide which process is right for you so that you can promptly terminate your marriage. For more information, call the Law Offices of Craig L. Cook at 479-783-8000.