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Know the Differences Between Annulment, Separation, and Divorce


Marriage celebrates the love two people share, and their desire to share in a lifetime commitment, therefore the breakdown of a once happy relationship can seem like failure. It’s safe to say nobody enters a marriage with the thought that one or both partners will eventually want out. Yet it happens, and for different reasons.

Should it come to pass that you no longer wish to remain married, you have decisions to make. Retaining the services of a Suffolk divorce lawyer is one step, but before you schedule a consultation it’s important to understand the different aspects of a broken marriage.

Annulment and Divorce in Virginia

Divorce in Virginia is defined as the dissolution of a marriage. Presently, the Commonwealth permits petition of “no-fault” and “fault” divorce cases. Fault divorces typically occur when one spouse files to end the marriage based upon the proven bad conduct of the other, be it infidelity or abuse or criminal activity. In a no-fault divorce, couples can claim irreconcilable differences and an unwillingness to resolve marital problems. Further considerations such as alimony, child support, and visitation are then determined by the courts or through mediation with divorce attorneys.

When a couple’s divorce is finalized they are no longer married, but it is recognized that they had been at one time. In an annulment, however, the marriage is dissolved and legally rendered null and void – the marriage never existed. Religion often plays a role in a couple seeking an annulment, as some faiths do not permit remarriage in the church.

Are you eligible for annulment? These are some of the factors that can determine this:

Deception: one partner lies about bigamy, a criminal record, or being able to have children when they can’t

Consent: a person marries without giving full consent, e.g. under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or is forced/blackmailed into marriage

Incest: both partners discover they are related; in Virginia, for example, it is not lawful for first cousins or other close blood relations to marry

Suffolk divorce attorney can advise you through your divorce or annulment proceedings and help you reach the settlement and outcome you want.

Separation in Virginia

Depending on your situation, divorce may not be the solution. Married couples unable and/or unwilling to continue living together may be reluctant to divorce for financial or social reasons, or because they have young children and do not wish to disrupt their upbringing. In cases like these, they might consider legally separating. Here, the couple simply stops living together in the long-term.

In Virginia, you don’t have to go to court or hire an attorney to separate from your spouse. However, you should consult with a lawyer to draw up a separation agreement to cover issues like child custody, personal taxes, and use of shared property.

One thing to note in a separation: dating can prove tricky. If your legal spouse doesn’t approve of your current partner, for example, it could affect your custody or visitation rights. If infidelity is not a factor in your split, this should be reflected in your separation agreement, for your protection, in the event your spouse chooses to use it as leverage in a divorce.

If you have questions about filing for divorce in Virginia, getting an annulment, or drafting a separation agreement, contact the law offices of Bush & Taylor, PC. We are ready to work with you to bring a timely resolution to your marital issues.

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