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Divorce Versus Annulment, Grounds For Annulment, Historical Link With Church Law

Annulment is the judicial pronouncement declaring a marriage invalid. A few ideas must be kept in mind in order to understand the concept of annulment and how it differs from divorce:

  1. Every society establishes rules of conduct for its members relating to behavior that affects the common good. Marriage is an institution designed to enable people to establish stable primary intimate relationships that potentially involve the procreation and rearing of children. While the right to marry is fundamental, each society passes legislation to control and restrict the exercise of this right.
  2. The rules governing the valid contracting of legal obligations are not necessarily shared by other social units and vary from society to society. If an individual belongs to multiple social units, the validity of contracts entered into by persons who choose to remain part of that social unit is governed by the laws passed by the legitimate authority of that unit.
  3. If the requirements that have been established by the legally binding authority of the social unit and that are in existence at the time of entering the contract are not fulfilled, the contract is considered null and void from its outset.
  4. The marriage ceremony takes place in a specific geographic locale. The requirements and regulations established by the state where the exchange of vows takes place may refer to the radical capacity or ability of persons entering marriage to take on the responsibilities and enjoy the rights of marriage (i.e., age and mental competence), the specific form that must be followed (i.e., valid license and official minister who is to witness the exchange of vows), or other regulations that fall into a questionable area between the basic ability or capacity to enter marriage and the format required (i.e., gender of the contracting parties). Whatever the category of requirement or regulation, if all norms so determined by the state are not followed, the contract is null and void, invalid; no marriage exists and no rights or obligations are incurred.

Additional topics

Marriage and Family EncyclopediaDivorce