A lot of people think of divorce as a legal matter but marriage annulment as a religious matter. For example, some Christian denominations will annul a marriage if the couple never consummated their marriage sexually, but except where abuse is concerned, family courts in the United States rarely concern themselves with people’s sexual behavior. Perhaps the most famous historical incident involving marriage annulment was the one involving King Henry VIII of England. The refusal on the part of the Catholic Church to annul Henry’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon was a major precipitating event in the Protestant Reformation in England.
What is Annulment of Marriage?
The secular and religious definitions of marriage annulment are similar in their essence. According to Florida law, an annulment is when a court declares a couple unmarried on the grounds that their marriage is not valid. It is different from a dissolution of marriage (divorce). In a divorce, the marriage was real, but a judge legally ends the marriage at the request of one or both parties. The law considers the marriage to have begun on the day of the couple’s wedding and to have ended on the day the court issued the divorce decree. Courts make decisions about spousal support based on these dates. For example, courts rarely award permanent alimony in cases in which the couple was married for less than 17 years.