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What is the Difference Between Annulment & Divorce in Maryland?

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Under Maryland family law, annulment and divorce are legal devices that enable spouses to end their marriage. But these devices are reserved for certain reasons, referred to legally as grounds. The legal grounds in Maryland for annulment are different from the legal grounds for limited or absolute divorce.

Annulment

Annulment is only available for void or otherwise invalid (voidable) marriages. Essentially, annulments dissolve a marriage, removing it from existence entirely. Maryland courts are very reluctant to grant an annulment, and parties often pursue a divorce instead.

Under Maryland family law the legal grounds for requesting an annulment include that the marriage is void or potentially voidable due to:

  • Mental Incapacity — One spouse lacks the mental capacity to enter into a contract at the time of the ceremony;
  • Previous Marriage — One spouse was still married to someone else without divorce;
  • Family Relations — The spouses are closely related within impermissible degrees by blood or marriage;
  • Coercion — One spouse forced the other spouse to marry under duress;
  • Fraud — One spouse defrauded the other spouse into marriage; or
  • Underage Minors — One spouse is under 18 years old and lacked proper consent.

Divorce

Divorce is available to spouses who wish to end their marriage. Under Maryland law, there are two types of divorce — limited and absolute. Limited divorces are not permanent, allowing the spouses an opportunity to reconcile their differences. Absolute divorces are final, making the parties involved former spouses.

Under Maryland Code, Family Law Section 7-102, the legal grounds for requesting a limited divorce include:

  • Cruel treatment of a spouse or their minor child;
  • Desertion;
  • Excessively vicious conduct toward a spouse or their minor child; or
  • Separation, if the spouses are living apart without cohabitation.

Under Maryland Code, Family Law Section 7-103, absolute divorces are available for the following reasons:

  • Adultery;
  • Criminal conviction, if a spouse must spend at least three years in jail and meets other conditions;
  • Cruel treatment of a spouse or their minor child;
  • Desertion;
  • Excessively vicious conduct toward a spouse or their minor child;
  • Insanity, if a spouse spends at least three years in a mental institution and meets other conditions;
  • Mutual consent, if the spouses execute a written settlement agreement and meet other conditions; or
  • Separation, if the spouses are living apart continuously, without cohabitation, for at least 12 months.

Let Us Help You Today

If you have legal questions about annulment or divorce in Maryland, it can be exceedingly productive to contact a seasoned family law attorney. The Bel Air divorce attorneys at Schlaich & Thompson, Chartered have more than 60 years of combined legal experience in family and criminal law, including annulment and divorce. If you need legal help, contact us today for an initial consultation.

https://www.stclaw.net/who-gets-to-keep-the-family-home-family-property-after-a-maryland-divorce/

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