Annulment v Divorce Laws in Florida

Annulment v Divorce Laws in Florida

Robert Sparks Divorce Attorneys of Tampa stands beside our clients when they are trying to secure an annulment. Spouses may have been kept in the dark about many things before entering a fraudulent marriage, and under certain circumstances, those lies can be enough to have a marriage invalidated like it never happened. Those seeking freedom from a union must also emerge from annulment with their assets intact and with enough in support to rebuild their lives. Contact our offices to schedule legal consultation on your best options for escaping a marriage.

How Does Divorce Work in Florida?

On the other hand, divorce is for those who are legally married and want to end the union and divide up their assets. Florida is a “no-fault” divorce state. It means that either partner can file for a divorce without having to prove that someone did something wrong. In the eyes of the Florida Court System, it is good enough to declare the marriage “irretrievably broken.”

However, according to state law Fla. Stat. § 61.021,  it is required that one of the parties in the marriage must reside 6 months in the state before the filing of the petition.

Florida offers a collaborative path to divorce and a non-collaborative path.

A collaborative divorce is one where the couple agrees on certain terms regarding the divorce settlement agreement and won’t need the help of a judge. They should know how all marital property and debt will be divided, and who will pay alimony. Couples must also agree on child custody, visitation rights, and child support. When couples have an agreement worked out before filing a Florida Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, the divorce process will usually be pretty easy.

In a non-collaborative divorce, couples are not in agreement on these issues and will sometimes need to go to court and perhaps hire divorce lawyers to make sure they get treated fairly in a divorce hearing. A judge may send couples to mediation to try to work issues out to avoid a trial. In court, a judge is called upon to administer the equitable distribution of marital assets and liabilities according to Fla. Stat. § 61.075. This doesn’t always mean equal though.

A judge will consider the contributions of both partners and what their needs will be after a divorce is final. A spouse who will take custody of the children will be more likely to be awarded the family home. Judges will do their best to be fair, but they make mistakes and sometimes don’t get all the information they need to make a just decision. Your divorce lawyer is your safeguard to make sure a judge sees the entire picture before dividing assets and assigning child custody.

Florida law requires only a 20-day waiting period before a judge may enter a final dissolution judgment—starting from the date you file your initial divorce papers Fla. Stat. § 61.19. However, a collaborative divorce will usually take a little longer to be approved. A contested divorce could take many months of back-and-forth negotiation and hearings. A divorce that must be decided in court may take up to a year or longer.

Annulment Laws in Florida

While many Florida statutes apply to divorce proceedings, there are no Florida statutes written on annulment. It is a matter of common law. This means that rulings aren’t based on statutes but on previous judicial decisions. When considering granting annulments, Florida judges would rely on past annulment rulings to guide them.

This gives Florida judges a lot of freedom in their rulings to grant or deny the erasure of a marital bond. It’s one reason those seeking annulment should have a skilled attorney at their side every step of the way. The court must hear all relevant information so they make the right decision. A skilled Tampa annulment lawyer can make sure your justifications and evidence are made clear.

One rule about annulment that can be counted on is that partners can seek an annulment at any time during the marriage. There is no waiting period or deadline. A spouse can seek a Florida annulment no matter how long the marriage has gone. Couples should be aware that the longer a marriage goes, the harder it may be to convince a judge to grant an annulment. The sexual consummation of a marriage could also convince a judge to deny annulment.

The Florida Court System has posted these legal grounds for annulment:

“1. The marriage is void because it’s bigamous (means one spouse is legally married to more than one person), incestuous) the couple is closely related by blood or marriage), the union consists of two underaged people, or because one spouse is permanently mentally, incapacitated and unable to consent to marriage. Although these marriages are void by their very nature, it is still advisable to obtain an annulment.

  1. The marriage is voidable because one of the spouses lacks the ability to consent to marriage. During the ceremony, the spouse was suffering from serious, but temporary mental problems, or was under the influence of intoxicating alcohol or drugs.
  2. The marriage is voidable because one spouse is impotent, and the other spouse did not know it at the time of marriage.
  3. The marriage is voidable because one of the spouses used fraudulent acts, or misrepresentations to trick the other spouse into entering the marriage. Not all misrepresentations will qualify. A qualifying fraud goes to the essence of the marital relationship. What that means is if a spouse married just to obtain a green card for immigration purposes, this can qualify.
  4. The marriage is voidable because one spouse is underage and entered the marriage without the consent of a parent, or guardian.
  5. The marriage is voidable because one or both spouses only entered into the marriage because they were under duress. This can be defined as extreme coercion, or possibly even force. It will have to be proven to a court that the duress was current at the time of marriage, not a regret later.
  6. The marriage is voidable because one, or both spouses entered the marriage as a joke.”

What Are Religious Annulments?

With no statutes on the books covering annulment in Florida, legal issues over an illegal marriage can get confusing. Couples may have heard about religious annulments through their churches and wonder if this can solve their dilemma.

Some churches and faiths offer their own form of annulment. Getting a religious annulment is often necessary so that the church will recognize a later union if a person gets remarried.

However, a religious annulment doesn’t affect the marriage’s legal standing in Florida. The state of Florida would still consider a couple married despite them having earned an annulment through their faith. Couples would still need an annulment granted by a Florida court or to seek divorce to end the marriage.

Contact a Tampa Annulment Lawyer

At Robert Sparks Attorneys, we are protective of our clients and we get aggressive to secure what’s fair for them. We stand beside our clients through the most emotional and difficult annulment battles to make sure they secure the freedom they require.

If you are considering an annulment in the Tampa area, please give our Tampa divorce lawyers a chance to safeguard your interests. Contact us for a no-obligation consultation on your case and find out your best option for getting free of marriage and keeping the assets you’ve worked so hard for. We also want to make sure your family, especially children, emerge from annulment with the support they need.