When the couple comes to the decision to end the marriage they choose the way it will be easier to do. In Indiana marriage can be ended by divorce or annulment. Both of these processes are legal, but they are not the same. Divorce recognizes marital relations and indicates that they are officially ended, and annulment states that marriage never existed due to special reasons.
Divorce is a more general procedure, since either of the spouses can dissolve the marriage, annulment is more specific, because it can only be done on the basis of a narrow circle of reasons. Indiana is both fault and no-fault state, which means that different grounds are allowed in order to dissolve a marriage. For example fault reasons are: conviction of a felony after the marriage was concluded, impotence or insanity, however these reasons need to be proved in the courtroom. Along with fault grounds are also acceptable no-fault reasons, which means that spouses do not blame each other. No-fault grounds allow spouses to dissolve a marriage on the statement that their matrimony is “irretrievably broken”. It does not matter what actually happened between the spouses, if in Petition someone indicates that the marriage is irretrievably broken – this will be a sufficient reason for the court to consider the divorce case and no evidence are needed. In this case the spouses do not have to show their dirty laundry for the court to see, it allows them to keep certain secrets that they would not want to give to the public.
Annulment indicates that the marriage never had legal force, because it was contracted in violation of the law. In Indiana a marriage can be declared void if one of the following conditions is fulfilled:
- One of the spouses was a minor at the time of the marriage. However, there is some condition here. If both spouses are minors, they may be protected from automatic annulment, for example if they got married due to pregnancy. Annulment occurs if one of the spouses was a minor at the time of the marriage ceremony and hid it from his/her fiance or bride.
- One of the spouses was already married at the time of the marriage ceremony (bigamy).
- One of the spouses was mentally ill at the time of wedding.
- Spouses are close blood relatives to each other.
- The marriage was fraudulent provided that the fraud was serious enough. Petty lies about the life is not a ground for annulment. It is also worth noting that if the reason of fraud has become known, but the couple continued to live as a family, it is no longer possible to annul this marriage.
- One of the spouses married under duress.
- The marriage is considered as a common law marriage that was concluded after January 1, 1958. Bit note if spouses are cousins and both of them are over 65 years with a condition that wedding ceremony occured after September 1, 1977, such a marriage can’t be annulled.
Any of these reasons requires undeniable evidence from the plaintiff.
In order to terminate a marriage spouses must meet residency requirements. In Indiana they are the same for divorce and annulment. So before going to court, either spouse must reside in Indiana for at least 6 months. In this case, the documents will be different, for the divorce spouses file a Petition for Dissolution, for an annulment – a Petition for Annulment. Petition must be filed in the Superior Court of the county where either spouse live.
In any divorce, the spouses are obliged to divide their common property, all that they have acquired since the marriage ceremony. This usually happens on the basis of what is fair, though not always equal, but in Indiana property can also be divided 50/50, depending on with what spouses agreed or what decision the judge made.
In case of annulment it’s also needed to resolve the property issue, but the procedure is slightly different. Usually courts try to restore the initial financial position of each spouse, meaning the state that each partner had before concluding the marriage. If during the marriage the spouses have acquired any common assets, the procedure may be more complicated, the family law does not work here. The separation takes place more like a business deal, as if two strangers bought something together.
It is also worth noting that the court carefully considers all cases where there are minor children in the family, regardless of what happens: divorce or annulment. Here the rules are very similar. Both parents are required to share custody of their common minor children so that the child feels as comfortable as possible. In addition, they are obliged to provide financial support to the child until he or she becomes an adult, and it does not matter if the marriage is terminated or is deemed void. With a divorce and annulment the Indiana Child Support Worksheet is used to calculate the amount of child support and the court considers the gross income of both parents.The issues of the distribution of custody over children and their financial support are always very important and are closely monitored by the court.
Another difference between divorce and annulment lies in financial support or as it also known marital support. After the marriage is dissolved, the spouse with the lowest income level has the right to receive an alimony. The amount and duration of payments depend mainly on the decision of the judge (if the spouses cannot agree among themselves), for which the judge analyzes various circumstances of the family and makes a decision. For example, a low-income spouse may receive $ 500 each month for 5 years. But this only applies to divorces. When a marriage is annulled, none of the spouses has the right for financial support, since their marriage legally had no power.
Annulment and divorce are both ligitations, but their final result and some procedures are different. Divorce is easier to obtain and it’s more popular, while courts rarely provide annulment and this procedure requires substantial evidence from a plaintiff.