Our top pick: 3 Step Divorce
- For uncontested divorces
- Pay a flat-fee of $299
- Ready-to-file divorce forms
- Court approved forms or your money back
Finder is committed to editorial independence. While we receive compensation when you click links to partners, they do not influence our opinions or reviews. Learn how we make money.
Annulments and divorces have the same end result — change your status to single and you’re free to remarry. But they have different legal implications, and you’ll need to provide proof of specific circumstances. While annulments aren’t necessarily faster or cheaper than a divorce, they have a few distinct advantages.
An annulment is a legal procedure that treats a marriage as though it never existed. It voids the marriage because it wasn’t legal to begin with. Each state spells out the circumstances or reasons that qualify you for an annulment, including if you were mentally incapacitated or you were misled into the marriage because of a lie or misrepresentation.
An annulment can cost anywhere from $150 to $5,000 — not including your state filing fee, which varies from county to county and averages around $300. How much you ultimately pay depends on a few factors, including whether your spouse contests the annulment and if you hire a lawyer.
Some states impose time limits for when you can legally request an annulment. For example, California’s annulment window is limited to four years on most grounds for annulment. Other states, such as Alabama, have no time limits.
No, you don’t need to hire a lawyer. You can use an online legal service or fill out the required legal documents yourself and submit the forms to your local county clerk.
But you’ll need to prove that you meet at least one of the grounds for annulment. Consider consulting a lawyer if you need help demonstrating that you have a legal reason for the annulment.
An annulment declares that the marriage was never legal or valid in the first place, whereas a divorce ends the marriage. The key difference is what happens after. If you’re divorced, you’ve been previously married. But if you’ve had an annulment, the marriage never existed.
To get an annulment, you must prove that you have a legal reason for it. On the other hand, most states allow for a no-fault divorce that doesn’t require proof of wrongdoing.
Here are a few key differences between the two:
|What it is||Legal procedure that deems your marriage never existed.||Legal procedure that ends your marriage.|
|Who it’s best for||Couples that want to erase the marriage and meet strict state guidelines.||Couples that want to terminate a legal marriage.|
|Cost||$150 to $5,000 + state filing fees||$150 to $23,000 + state filing fees|
|Length of time required before filing||Varies by state||Varies by state|
|Statute of limitations||Yes — varies by state and grounds for annulment||No|
|Children considered legitimate||Yes||Yes|
|Marital status afterward||Single||Single|
You can hire an online service to help you with the legal forms for your divorce or annulment.
The grounds for annulment and the time limit for each reason vary by state. Here are some common legal bases for annulment:
Here are a few good arguments for getting an annulment instead of a divorce:
An annulment legally voids a marriage and generally restores your single status from before the union. With a legal separation, you remain married to your spouse, although you live separate lives. A separation agreement lays out your responsibilities and division of assets and debts.
You can only get an annulment if you meet your state’s strict guidelines to qualify. There’s no waiting period, but it’s not necessarily cheaper or faster than a divorce — especially if your spouse contests it.
And since annulments have a burden of proof, it might be easier to terminate the marriage with a divorce. Take a look at our guide to divorce to learn about its legal implications and decide if it’s right for you.
Avoid the courtroom by hiring lawyers specifically trained to manage conflict negotiations.
No-fault divorce may be faster and cheaper, but fault divorce may have more financial benefits if you’ve been wronged.
Depending on whether you go the DIY route or hire lawyers, it may cost you a few hundred to thousands of dollars.
It could take as little as a month or over a year, but there are ways to fast-track a few steps.
A cheaper alternative to going to court that helps couples resolve issues together.
A state-recognized marital status similar to divorce — but you can’t remarry.
One of the cheapest DIY divorce services — but customer support is currently limited to email.
The Cashola card can help your kids save, but is it right for your family?
This highly rated DIY divorce service prepares your legal docs for you — but a lawyer won’t review them.
It’s possible to consciously uncouple for less than $600 — or even for free.
finder.com is an independent comparison platform and information service that aims to provide you with the tools you need to make better decisions. While we are independent, the offers that appear on this site are from companies from which finder.com receives compensation. We may receive compensation from our partners for placement of their products or services. We may also receive compensation if you click on certain links posted on our site. While compensation arrangements may affect the order, position or placement of product information, it doesn't influence our assessment of those products. Please don't interpret the order in which products appear on our Site as any endorsement or recommendation from us. finder.com compares a wide range of products, providers and services but we don't provide information on all available products, providers or services. Please appreciate that there may be other options available to you than the products, providers or services covered by our service.