There are two ways to end a marriage: divorce and annulment. Though divorce and annulment yield the same result--the end of the marriage--they are different. Divorce is the legal issuance acknowledging that the marriage is dissolved. Annulment is a legal decree that states that the marriage is null and void; an annulment treats the involved parties as though the marriage never happened. In Florida, there are specific instances under which marriages can be annulled.
General Annulment Rules
To receive an annulment, also called a Simplified Dissolution of Marriage, both husband and wife must meet certain criteria. They must have no dependent children, and the wife cannot be pregnant at the time of dissolution. They must have divided their joint property and made arrangements to pay joint obligations, and both parties must agree to the division. At least one spouse must have resided in Florida for six months immediately before filing for the annulment. Both spouses must agree that the marriage cannot be repaired.
Conditions for Annulment
In Florida, certain cases qualify for annulment very quickly. The marriage can be annulled if one or both of the parties involved is already married; was under the age of 18 without the consent of a parent or legally responsible person; got married while under the influence of drugs or alcohol; has a physical disability that affects her sex life in a negative way; was forced or tricked into the marriage; or suffers from any type of mental illness or condition.
Getting the Annulment
While couples can try to work out the details of annulment, it is recommended that they work with separate attorneys. Dissolving a marriage can be a difficult prospect, so a lawyer can speed along the process and make sure that the division is as amicable as possible. If you are not sure you are eligible for an annulment under Florida law, consult an expert.