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Alternatives to Divorce


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If you are unhappy in your marriage but do not want to get a divorce, whether for a legal, spiritual, or other reasons, there could be different choices that you are able to take advantage of. Subject to your circumstances, an annulment or a separation might be a better choice for both of you.

Key Fact Concerning An Annulment

Even when you get an annulment that is religious, you are going to need to acquire a separate civil annulment through your state’s court system for it to be effective legally.


Annulments are different from divorces. Whereas both are going to end a marriage, the two processes do not attain the dissolution the same way. A divorce legally terminates the marriage but recognizes that the marriage existed during a certain period of time. Annulments have the effect of legally expunging the marriage. Annulments can be awarded on legal or spiritual grounds. This post is only going to address legal annulments, as the particulars involved in religious annulments can vary, subject to the religion.

Overall, states are going to only grant annulments under certain circumstances. One of the reasons for this is to hinder couples from bypassing divorce laws since these laws are intended to safeguard spouses. For instance, when one spouse works and the other spouse stays home to care for the child(ren), divorce laws are meant to guarantee that the spouse that has possibly foregone their career to take care of the children is not left without a way of supporting both themselves and the children should a divorce happen.

In annulments, any jointly obtained property is going to still be required to be distributed. On the other hand, the length of the marriage in those cases is usually much more brief than in cases related to divorces, this means that spouses wanting an annulment have usually not foregone their earning capability in dependence on their partner to the same degree as in other marriages.

As aforementioned, following a marriage being annulled, it is as though it never occurred from a legal perspective. Nevertheless, if there were children born to the couple when they were legally married, their children are still going to be regarded as children of the marriage.

Grounds for Annulment

State laws differ, but there are a couple of legal grounds for getting an annulment that are typical. In annulments there usually must be one of the spouses at fault. One of the more general grounds for annulments is deception or fabrication. For the purpose of getting an annulment because of this, one of the spouses must have basically lied about something material, like if they are already married to another person. To provide grounds for an annulment, a lie must be considerable. That is to say, it needs to be concerning something that had you had knowledge about, you would not have married your spouse.

A likewise basis for annulment is referred to as “concealment,” and relates to hiding material information rather than lying about it. Concealment is when an individual fails to disclose a significant fact about themselves. One instance would be that they are felon. To reiterate, the concealment is required to be of the sort that had the spouse had knowledge of it, they would have never got married. Another associated ground is misunderstanding. This could come into play when one spouse doesn’t want children, but the other spouse does, or they discover that there is another significant issue that they mistakenly thought they agreed upon.

Other Grounds for Annulment

Other general reasons for annulments are impotence, incest, and absence of consent. For the impotency reasoning to apply, the impotency is required to be terminal, and the spouse must not have had knowledge about it when they got married. The incest reasoning applies when the parties involved are too closely related to one another to have gotten married to begin with. The particular familial relationships that apply are going to depend on state law. Lastly, if one of the parties was unable to provide consent because of mental disability, or was pressured into the marriage, the absence of consent reasoning is going to apply.

Legal Separation

Legal separation is different from a divorce in that although the separating couple decides not to live their lives as married spouses in a lot of ways, they remain legally married. In a legal separation, the court acknowledges that the spouses are separated. The court can also step in to help the spouses settle asset division, custody, and other issues. Legal separations may be favored over divorce by some spouses for financial and/or religious reasoning. It is also much easier for legally separated spouses to resume living as a married couple again if they decide, as they would just need to revoke their separation, instead of getting married again as they would have to do following their divorce.

Trial Separation

When marital issues arise but divorce isn’t imminent, consider a trial separation. It allows space for counseling or evaluating the relationship.

Trial separations, typically under 30 days, don’t involve courts. However, for longer separations, document terms, covering:

  • the amount of time you are going to spend apart
  • who is going to care for the children
  • which spouse will pay the bills
  • if you’re going to keep sharing a bank account, and
  • what you are going to do if you can’t reunite (file for a divorce or a permanent separation.)


  1. Alternatives to divorce. Justia. (2021, October 18). Retrieved February 16, 2022, from

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