Annulment vs. Divorce in Wisconsin
You may think that both an annulment and a divorce end a marriage. But that is not actually true. Annulment and divorce are very different, as is the legal process for filing for each of these.
What is an annulment?
An annulment is a legal judgment by the court that invalidates a marriage back to the actual date of the marriage. In essence, an annulment effectively states that the marriage never existed – in the eyes of the law, the couple was never united in marriage as husband and wife. The Wisconsin court may only annul a marriage under limited circumstances. When a marriage is annulled, the judge can still order child support, child custody, spousal support, visitation, and property division.
Grounds for annulment in Wisconsin
In the state of Wisconsin, a couple must satisfy legal grounds for an annulment. Specifically, the following serve as legal grounds for annulling a marriage in the state of Wisconsin:
- Underage: one of the spouses was too young to legally marry in the state of Wisconsin. In Wisconsin, a couple can marry at age 16 with parental consent and at age 18 without parental consent. Thus if one of the spouses was under 16, or was 16 and did not have parental consent, the marriage is invalid.
- Duress or force: one spouse was threatened, coerced, or forced to get married.
- Mental Incapacity: one spouse lacked the mentally capacity to understand the marriage
- Recent divorce: the couple married within six months of a spouse’s Wisconsin divorce
- Fraud: a spouse lied about something critical to the marriage, such as the ablity to have children. Financial misrepresentation is not sufficient to annul a marriage.
- Bigamy: one spouse already had a living husband or wife at the time they were married.
- Impotence: one spouse physically is unable to have sexual intercourse and did not disclose that to the other spouse.
- Incest: spouses are first cousins or a closer blood relationship.
Some of the grounds for annulment in the state of Wisconsin have additional conditions; it is vital to speak with an experienced family law attorney regarding your individual situation. Annulments are rarely granted in Wisconsin.
What is a divorce?
With a divorce, the marriage is recognized as legal by the court. Upon divorce, the court terminates the marriage and the couple no longer are husband and wife. A judge determines matters pertaining to division of property, child support, child custody, and spousal support.
Divorce in Wisconsin is “no fault”
The state of Wisconsin offers a “no fault” divorce: neither spouse is required to demonstrate that the other spouse did anything to contribute to the marriage failing. The Wisconsin court does not consider either spouse to be the cause of a marriage’s dissolution and will accept that a marriage is irretrievably broken as sufficient grounds to honor a divorce.
Family law attorneys are skilled and knowledgeable, with reputation for excellence
The family law attorneys at Wisconsin’s Bandle & Zaeske, LLP, are skilled and knowledgeable in all facets of family law. With more than 50 years of legal experience, our accomplished team has a reputation for excellence. Attorney Eric Zaeske was named a top divorce and family law attorney by Wisconsin’s M Magazine for four consecutive years. Attorney Christie Bandle received the prestigious Rising Star designation by Super Lawyers, an honor awarded to less than 2.5% of Wisconsin lawyers each year, as well as named top divorce attorney by MKE Lifestyle magazine. Our team is available to answer your questions regarding annulment, divorce, and other family matters, and explain the legal process. To arrange for a confidential consultation with a member of our team, contact us online or reach the office directly at 414-359-1424. We work with clients in Milwaukee, Washington, Ozaukee and Waukesha counties. We also practice in Dodge, Racine, Fond du Lac and Sheboygan counties.