Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Florida Annulment

What is the difference between annulment and divorce in Florida? Annulment is a legal declaration that a marriage never existed because it was void or voidable under the law. A divorce, on the other hand, is a legal declaration that a marriage existed but it is now dissolved. Examples of a void or voidable marriage include a marriage between individuals related within a certain degree or a marriage in which one of the spouses is still married to someone else.

When a person is still legally married to someone else (known as bigamy), an annulment may be the proper remedy to seek. But what if you are already divorced and you want to set aside the divorce to seek an annulment instead? This can be done under certain circumstances. Consider the case Albassam v. Klob, 238 So.3d 311 (Fla. 4th DCA 2018) in which the former husband sought to set aside a final judgment of divorce on the grounds that the former wife’s prior marriage was not properly dissolved in the country of Jordan.

The former husband argued that the former wife’s Jordanian divorce was not valid under Florida law because neither party lived in Jordan when the divorce decree was entered. Based on this, the former husband reasoned the trial court had no subject matter jurisdiction to dissolve his marriage. After considering that steps had been taken to comply with the parties’ final judgment such as payment of debts and division of assets, the trial court found it would be inequitable for the former husband to now attack the final judgment.

The former husband appealed and the appellate court sided with the trial court. The appellate court noted, “Here, the former husband married and cohabited with the former wife for more than a year and a half before separating and filing for divorce. The former husband did not raise bigamy as a defense or seek to annul the marriage. In fact, he petitioned for the dissolution in Florida in September 2012, having known of the wife's Jordanian divorce entered more than 15 years ago. He did not question the legitimacy of the wife's prior Jordanian divorce throughout his marriage to her and for nearly two years after this divorce had become final.” Based on this, the appellate court held, “The trial court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that it would be inequitable to allow the former husband to attack the validity of the 2000 Jordanian divorce decree in 2015 after having relied on it to marry and dissolve his 2011 marriage to the former wife.”

Deciding whether annulment is the best route to take starts with a consultation with a Miami annulment lawyer. A meeting will help you understand what needs to be proven in order to successfully defend an annulment case and what options are best for you.