What Is the Difference Between a Divorce and an Annulment?

There are two ways to end a marriage – divorce or annulment. Kansas recognizes a third type of procedure, a separate maintenance action (commonly called a "legal separation") which does not terminate the marriage but addresses the issues just as in a divorce action. In 2017, there were 787,251 divorces and annulments in the United States. A divorce ends a marriage legally. Conversely, an annulment declares the marriage null and void, as if it never happened. While divorce seems to be the more common procedure to end a marriage in Kansas, an annulment is also available in limited circumstances.

Jeffers Law Office can provide you with the experienced legal counsel and advocacy you need to understand the entire process of divorce and annulment. As your attorney, he will offer you the proper guidance and support you need to get through this difficult period and make the transition quite seamless. Attorney Mark Jeffers is proud to represent clients across Johnson County, Wyandotte County, Miami County, Leavenworth County, including Overland Park, Merriam, Olathe, Lenexa, Leawood, Prairie Village, and Shawnee, Kansas.

Annulment in Kansas

According to Kansas law, an annulment voids a marriage by court order, thus making it as if it never happened. In an annulment:

  • The marriage is declared void or voidable
  • No valid marriage ever existed

The Kansas annulment statute (Kan. Stat. Ann. § 23-2702) provides that the district court shall grant a decree of annulment of any marriage for any of the following grounds:

Void Marriage

Under Kansas law, a void marriage is considered invalid. They are not recognized legally and are prohibited by the law. The marriage may be void for the following reasons:

  • Bigamy: one or both spouse(s) is/are already married without having terminated the prior marriage
  • Underage: one or both spouse(s) is/are under the age of 18 and thus are not yet old enough to consent to marriage (subject to certain exceptions)
  • Lack of mental capacity: one or both spouse(s) lacked sufficient mental capacity at the time of entering the marriage to understand the contract of marriage
  • Incest: the spouses are closely related, making the marriage incestuous. Examples are parent/child, grandparent/grandchild, siblings, uncle/niece, and first cousins.

Voidable Marriage

Voidable marriages may be declared void due to the following reasons:

  • Fraud: it was induced by fraud which goes to the essentials of the marriage, the statement was untrue, and the other spouse relied on the statement. Examples are when a woman is pregnant by another man or when the man is incurably impotent.
  • Mistake of fact: it was induced by mistake of fact, that is, a lack of knowledge of a material fact such that the parties would not have entered the marriage had all the facts been known.
  • Appeal time for divorce: it was contracted within the appeal time from a judgment of divorce, or if there is an appeal, before the time of final judgment.
  • Other reasons: any other reason justifying rescission of the marriage, such as a lack of intent to marry due to a dare, intoxication, or one spouse having been coerced into marriage by force or threat of force ("shotgun wedding"). 

Divorce in Kansas

According to Kansas law, a divorce legally terminates a legitimate marriage contract. Kansas is primarily a "no-fault" divorce state, and a divorce will most commonly be granted on the grounds of incompatibility without corroborating testimony. In rare instances, a divorce may also be granted on the grounds of a failure to perform a material marital duty or for incompatibility by reason of mental illness or mental incapacity. In a divorce proceeding, the marriage will be dissolved and issues such as property and debt division, child custody, parenting time (formerly called "visitation"), child support, and spousal support/maintenance (formerly called "alimony") will be addressed. Divorces are generally categorized as contested or uncontested.

Contested Divorce

In a contested divorce, the spouses are unable to agree on one or more essential terms of the divorce. In this case, alternative dispute resolution measures such as mediation may be utilized in order to reach an amicable settlement. If an agreement still cannot be reached, a trial will be required, and the Judge will enter a final ruling as to all issues not agreed upon.

Uncontested Divorce

In an uncontested divorce, both spouses mutually agree on the terms of the divorce such as property and debt division, spousal support/maintenance, child support, child custody, and parenting time. For final approval, the agreed-upon terms will be filed with the court in the form of a written settlement agreement and approved by the Judge with the filing of a final Decree of Divorce.

The Difference Between an Annulment and a Divorce

Below are some of the differences between an annulment and a divorce: 

  • Divorce is a request to end a valid marriage, while annulment is ending an invalid marriage because it was void/voidable and thus, it is as if it never happened.
  • To obtain a divorce in Kansas, you or your spouse must have been a resident of the state for at least 60 days prior to filing. In the case of annulment, you are not required to have lived in the state for any particular period of time before filing.
  • After the annulment, you are legally entitled to call yourself "single" instead of checking the box for "divorced" when applicable.
  • In an annulment, you are required to state the specific grounds as to why the marriage contract is void or voidable. This isn't required in a divorce case.

How Legal Counsel Can Help

Handling annulments or divorce in Kansas involves complicated procedures. Any failure to properly complete the required court documents may lead to your case being dismissed. Having an experienced family law attorney is crucial to help you decide the best course of action and help you navigate through the process.

As an experienced Kansas divorce lawyer, Attorney Mark Jeffers will work with you to settle essential terms amicably. He will evaluate your unique situation to determine the possibility of an annulment or divorce. With his guidance, you can increase your chances of a successful outcome in your annulment or divorce case.

Hire a Skilled Annulment Attorney in Kansas Today!

If you are considering a divorce or if you believe that your marriage should never have happened, contact Jeffers Law Office today for a free initial telephone consultation. Attorney Mark Jeffers will help you understand the details of the divorce or annulment process and review your options. He is proud to serve clients throughout Johnson County, Wyandotte County, Miami County, Leavenworth County, Overland Park, Merriam, Olathe, Lenexa, Leawood, Prairie Village, and Shawnee, Kansas.


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