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Annulment vs. Divorce vs. Legal Separation in New York – What’s the Difference? 2024

Annulment vs. Divorce vs. Legal Separation in New York – What’s the Difference? 2024

Around half of the marriages in this country will ultimately end in divorce. While legal dissolutions can occur amicably, many divorces require the work of a New York divorce attorney. The stakes surrounding divorce are high and often involve the splitting of assets and the establishment of child custody agreements. Not working with an experienced attorney could lead to the unnecessary loss of assets and less-than-ideal visitation schedules with your children.

The Law Offices of Robert Tsigler, PLLC, are here to help. Our attorneys have extensive experience helping spouses protect their interests throughout the divorce process. One question we commonly field deals with the differences between annulment, divorce, and separation in New York. It can be useful to explore these three options so you can learn which one is right for you.

Annulment Vs Divorce Vs Legal Separation in New York - What’s The Difference?

What Is an Annulment?

When a marriage is annulled, the court order declares the marriage null and void. To have your marriage annulled, one or both parties must prove that the marriage is no longer valid, even if it may have been valid at one point. There are several common reasons why a marriage can be annulled.

  • -Age: A marriage can be annulled if either party was underage at the time of the divorce. Minor children must have the consent of both parents before they can marry, and younger teens may even require the permission of a judge. When these conditions are not met, one party, if they are still under 18, may seek an annulment.
  • -Mental Capacity: A judge may annul a marriage if one or both spouses lack the mental capacity to give consent to be married in the first place. Being mentally incapacitated is grounds for seeking an annulment in many cases.
  • -Consummation of Marriage: If one party is unable to consummate the marriage but the other spouse did not know about that inability before marriage, the marriage could be annulled for that reason.
  • -Consent: If you or your partner entered into the marriage under duress, force, or fraud, the marriage could be subject to annulment. Falsely claiming to be pregnant to entice a partner to marry them is one example of fraud. Claiming to want marriage when you really don’t is another example.

Annulment isn’t for everyone because there are strict situations where a marriage qualifies for annulment. If you have questions about this possibility, one of our attorneys can gladly go over the details of your marriage to see if an annulment is a possibility.

How Does a Divorce Work in New York?

The State of New York is a no-fault state for marriage. This means that neither spouse has to prove fault to seek a divorce. One party may seek to end the marriage on the grounds of insupportability, which may simply mean that one party or both no longer see the marriage as sustainable. While the grounds for divorce may be straightforward, the process can be complex, especially when one or both spouses are immigrants.

An uncontested divorce is one where both spouses agree on the terms of the divorce. Since there is agreement on how to split assets and visitation time with children, the process can move rather quickly, with a divorce being finalized in as few as six weeks. Your New York divorce attorney can draft and file the paperwork on your behalf to ensure that everything transpires smoothly.

Contested divorces require negotiations and potential litigation to settle areas of disagreement. A final agreement on the terms of a divorce may be settled through negotiations, mediation, or a trial. Although these cases can be stressful, we have helped many past clients settle their divorce cases on favorable terms.

What Is Separation?

One way to preserve your marriage while determining whether to divorce or work to preserve the marriage is through a separation agreement.

Couples who have concerns about their marriage can take this intermediary step that allows the spouses to live apart. A separation agreement details the responsibilities of both parties. The agreements can outline spousal support and child visitation. In the event of a divorce, the agreement can serve as a blueprint for the final divorce decree.

Which Option Is Right for Me?

The decision to seek annulment, separation, or divorce is deeply personal. The role of a New York divorce lawyer is to provide counsel on the legal aspects of dissolving a marriage. Our lawyers can listen to the details of your case as well as your personal goals before describing the pros and cons of each option.


Q: What Qualifies You for an Annulment in New York?

A: Annulments are only awarded in specific situations. This legal option can find that a marriage is null and void because the agreement was based on fraud or a violation of New York law. Your divorce attorney can examine the details of your case to determine if your marriage can be dissolved through an annulment.

Q: How Many Years Do You Have to Be Separated to Be Legally Divorced in New York?

A: Any married couple that has separated for one year or more may qualify for divorce. Once the one-year mark has elapsed, either party may file for a no-fault divorce. This does not guarantee that the divorce will be uncontested, though. An uncontested divorce can be finalized in as few as six weeks. No matter the status of your separation or divorce, having legal counsel can improve the odds that your divorce ends on favorable terms.

Q: Does NY Recognize Legal Separation?

A: Yes. The family courts view separation as a status of married couples. In fact, a New York court may issue a separation decree that describes the rights and expectations of both spouses. Any couple currently separated is technically married until the divorce is sought. Some couples may choose to recommit to their marriage after initially separating.

Q: What Are the Disadvantages of Legal Separation in NY?

A: Every case is different, but legal separation may increase the chances that your case ends with divorce. Separation also does not have the finality that a divorce does. If you have questions about the pros and cons of separation versus divorce, our lawyers can counsel you on the merits of both options. As many of our clients have said, our attorneys vigorously fight for the interests of our clients.

Schedule Your Consultation With a New York Divorce Attorney

When a marriage is no longer tenable, annulment, separation, or divorce can help both spouses move on with their lives. Given these multiple options, having sound legal advice throughout that process is critical. If you are considering divorce, don’t wait. Schedule a consultation with the Law Offices of Robert Tsigler, PLLC, today.

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