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Annulment or Divorce?

Annulment or Divorce?

In Indiana, married couples can end their marriages by annulment or divorce. An annulment is a legal declaration that states that a marriage was never valid, while a divorce is a permanent and legal end to a marriage. However, granting an annulment can only happen in very specific situations while a divorce can be granted when either one or both parties want to end their marriage.


Indiana will grant a couple an annulment if their marriage falls under one of two categories: void marriages or voidable marriages. A void marriage is one that is prohibited by law. Examples include marriages to a person who already has a living spouse, marriages between two closely related people, or marriages entered into with the intent to evade state law. Alternatively, voidable marriages are marriages that are considered valid, but can be invalidated. These marriages can be invalidated if one or both spouses are under the age of eighteen, the marriage was conducted under fraudulent conditions, or if one party was not able to consent to the marriage because they were mentally incapacitated or incompetent.

Although a marriage may be deemed as void or voidable under these circumstances, it is up to a judge to grant an annulment. The first step is to file a “Petition for Annulment” or an “Agreed Annulment,” depending on if the choice to annul the marriage is a mutual one, and file the petition in the superior court of the county where both spouses live. The jurisdictional requirements for an annulment in Indiana say that both spouses must have been residents in Indiana for at least six months and have been residents of the county where the annulment is filed for at least three months.

An annulment may still require division of property and debts or determination of child custody, support, and parenting time issues. The court will determine the outcome of these issues at the time of granting of the annulment. However, the result of an annulment is that the spouses are treated as though the marriage never occurred.


In Indiana, a spouse initiates a divorce by filing a verified petition for dissolution of marriage. The possible grounds for divorce under Indiana Code §31-15-2-3 are an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, one spouses’ felony conviction following the marriage, impotence of either spouse that existed on the date of marriage, or incurable insanity of either spouse for a minimum of two years. Additionally, if two parties agree to be divorced, a court will typically not argue against the dissolution of the marriage.

Because divorce is a permanent and legal end to a marriage, during the divorce proceedings assets are divided, child custody, support and parenting time, are determined, and a judge enters a final judgement considering the marriage over. After a divorce is finalized, the marriage is not considered to have never occurred, but the spouses cut all legal ties and are no longer married.

If you are considering ending your marriage, but aren’t sure whether an annulment or a divorce is best for your situation, contact McNeely Law today at (317) 825-5510 to talk to an experienced family law attorney who can help you navigate through your options.

This McNeely Law LLP publication should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion of any specific facts or circumstances. The contents are intended for general information purposes only, and you are urged to consult your own lawyer on any specific legal questions you may have concerning your situation.

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