Annulment vs. Divorce: What’s the difference in Wisconsin?

wedding ring back in box after legal separationAnnulments and divorces may be related concepts—and may seem to be the synonymous—but in reality, they are two different Wisconsin legal proceedings. Both of these processes end a marriage, though an annulment is different in a very key way. An annulled marriage in essence never happened, while a divorce ends the marriage. There are a few other differences as well, which we have outlined below. To find out which process is right for you, contact a lawyer to find out what applies to your situation.

Annulment

One of the key benefits of an annulment is that there is no waiting period, whereas in Wisconsin there is a four-month waiting period before anything can be heard. To be granted an annulment, the couple must have solid legal standing to ask for an annulment, such as fraud, incapability to consent (impairment, etc.), underage, coercion, bigamy, impotence, incense, etc.

One party can file for an annulment, but they must have resided in Wisconsin for 30 days. After the annulment has been granted, the court decides key matters such as property division, alimony, etc. Children are still considered legitimate even though the marriage legally never happened.

Divorce

A divorce is the ending of a marriage. While a divorce is filed in court just like an annulment, the process can be more complicated if the divorce is decided by the court. There are options for divorce that can expedite the process (faster than a litigated divorce), such as a mediation or collaborative divorce (find out about both divorce alternatives here).

In a divorce, a court can make decisions about property division, alimony, or child custody. In a mediation or collaborative divorce, both parties make these decisions with the assistance of their lawyers. A local lawyer can help you decide what process is right for your marriage; an experienced lawyer can guide both parties, or one party, through the mediation, collaborative divorce, or litigated divorce.

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