What Is the Difference Between Annulment and Divorce in Minnesota?

What Is the Difference Between Annulment and Divorce in Minnesota?

Dissolving your marriage is an important step in ending an existing relationship with your spouse in Minnesota. Generally, you have two options for dissolving your marriage: annulment, or divorce. Just what is the difference between annulment and divorce in Minnesota?

Both annulment and divorce change the existing arrangement regarding a marriage. However, annulment and divorce are two distinctly different processes – and may represent two very different things. Do you know the difference between annulment and divorce and how they apply to the dissolution of your marriage? 

What Is the Difference Between Annulment and Divorce?

A divorce is the legal end of a valid marriage. An annulment, on the other hand, declares that the relationship between the two individuals involved was never a legal marriage in the first place and that it should not have occurred. 

In many states, dividing property or applying for spousal support can be more complicated when you file for an annulment rather than divorce. When an annulment is filed in Minnesota, however, according to the terms of Minnesota statutes of limitation, the same general laws that apply to divorce also apply to the annulment. That means that when an annulment is granted, the judge can also rule on issues like child custody, division of assets, or spousal support. 

When Can You Apply for Annulment in Minnesota?

Generally, you can apply for an annulment only when the marriage should not legally have happened in the first place. There are several circumstances under which the initial marriage agreement might be considered legally invalid.  

  • Your marriage involved at least one underage spouse who did not have the legal permission of their parents to get married, unless the spouses chose to continue to live together after the underage spouse reached the age at which they could legally get married.
  • One of the spouses was forced to get married, or entered into the marriage under fraudulent terms.
  • One spouse entered into marriage due to mental instability/illness or the presence of drugs or alcohol.
  • The marriage involved spouses closely related by blood or adoption, which is illegal in Minnesota.
  • One spouse was already married to another person, according to Minnesota law. 
  • One spouse could not sexually consummate the marriage and did not make that inability to consummate clear to the other spouse at the time of the marriage. 

 You must apply for an annulment before the statutes of limitation runs out. The statutes of limitation dictates how long you have to apply for annulment, as opposed to divorce, and may vary depending on what condition you are using to apply for annulment.  

Generally speaking, if you continue to live with the other person after the conditions that gave you the right to an annulment were no longer possible, you cannot apply for an annulment under Minnesota law. For example, if you could have had the marriage annulled because you got married under the influence of drugs or alcohol, but you continued to live as if you were married once that influence wore off, you do not have the right to apply for an annulment under Minnesota law. 

Tips for Filing for Annulment Under Minnesota Law

If you intend to file for an annulment under Minnesota law, there are several things you need to take into consideration. You may have a limited amount of time to file for an annulment.  

Generally, you cannot file for an annulment after a specific length of time has passed. In cases of intoxication, mental incapacity, or fraud, for example, you, or your family law attorney, may need to file for an annulment within 90 days of learning about the issue. If a minor child is involved in a fraudulent marriage, the child’s legal guardian will need to file for annulment before the child reaches adulthood. 

 Your annulment petition may need to include information about your assets, your children, and any spousal support arrangements.

In some cases, particularly long-standing marriage arrangements, you may have considerable assets that need to be divided on the dissolution of the marriage—even in cases of annulment. In order to streamline the annulment as much as possible, make sure you lay out those terms ahead of time. You may need to consider factors like: 

  • How you will divide your assets, including shared property and property from before the marriage.
  • How you will divide any marital debts.
  • Your planned child custody arrangement. Keep in mind that a judge will carefully review custody arrangements to ensure that they are in the best interests of the child.
  • Any needed child support arrangements.
  • Any needed spousal support. Spousal support is more common when the two parties have been married, or living as married, for some time, but may also occur in some short-term marriage arrangements, particularly if one spouse wants to support the other for a period of time. 

By including all that information up front, you can ensure that the details of your annulment are all laid out.

The other party has the right to dispute your annulment petition.

The other party can dispute that the annulment should have happened at all or any of the terms that you choose to include in the annulment, including asset division, child custody, or support arrangements. In some cases, mediation prior to annulment can make it easier to sort out those details and make sure that you have all relevant information about your annulment. 

A lawyer can help you learn more about your rights regarding an annulment in Minnesota.

Do you have the right to an annulment, according to Minnesota law and statutes of limitation? What if you continued to live with your former spouse for a period of time? How should you handle things like asset division or child custody following an annulment? An attorney can help guide you through the process and make sure that your rights are protected as you file for annulment.  

Check into resources that can help you learn more. 

The Minnesota Court System offers an extensive resource that can help you establish the difference between annulment and divorce, learn more about your rights during an annulment, and how to file for annulment. 

Do You Need to File for Annulment or Divorce in Minnesota?

An annulment treats your marriage as though it never happened, legally speaking. It can help clear your legal status and allow you to move forward with your life.A divorce, on the other hand, helps you legally end your marriage and separate from your spouse.  A lawyer can help you learn more about your next steps. Contact CJB Law to learn more about your rights.