Understanding the Difference Between Divorce and Annulment in Nevada

A divorce ends a marriage while still recognizing it as having been legal, whereas an annulment voids a marriage as if it never existed. Only certain kinds of marriages can be annulled.

Differences Between Annulment and Divorce

Both annulments and divorces legally terminate marriages in Reno. However, annulments render marriages null and void, treating the marriages as if they never happened. On the contrary, a divorce terminates a marriage without delegitimizing it as invalid. As a result, the marriage remains valid starting from the date of the couple’s marriage to the divorce date.

Alimony

Spousal support is often awarded after a divorce. The courts do not usually award alimony after an annulment unless a spouse acted in bad faith. Equitable alimony can be granted if one spouse mistreated the other.

Reasons

In Nevada, any marriage can be eligible for divorce. With regard to annulment, however, the two main legal grounds are:

  • The wedding was unlawful (void marriage)
  • One spouse did not provide meaningful consent to the marriage (voidable marriage)

Void Marriage

In Nevada, marriages are automatically void if the spouses are blood relatives or if one of the spouses was still married to someone else during the marriage. These marriages are not lawful right from the start.

Voidable Marriage

A voidable marriage is legal until it is voided by the court. As long as neither of the spouses successfully annuls the marriage, then it remains valid. The four main causes for annulment are:

  • Lack of parental consent: One of the spouses was under 18 at the time of marriage, and consent of the parent or guardian was not obtained
  • Want of understanding: This means one or both spouses could not have given consent because they were not in their right mind for reasons like mental disability, insanity, drug or alcohol consumption, and severe emotional distress
  • Fraud: The consent of one of the spouses was obtained by fraud, for example, by the other spouse hiding or misrepresenting important information about himself or herself
  • Contract breach: A marriage can be annulled for reasons that can void a contract, such as duress, undue influence, and negligent misrepresentation

An annulment may or may not be a person’s most suitable option for terminating a marriage. Divorce attorneys help people choose the best marriage dissolution option for their situation and protect their legal rights. If a person’s annulment is not proper due to his or her valid reason not falling under the causes for annulment, then he or she can opt for divorce or legal separation.

Kimberly Surratt served for eight years on the executive council and has been the vice chair and then chair of the State Bar of Nevada Family Law Section. In addition, she is the President-Elect of the Nevada Justice Association and the chair of the domestic lobbying committee. She has lobbied with the Nevada Justice Association since 2004.

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