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Updated: 4/13/2007 3:35 pm
Like a divorce, an annulment is a court procedure that dissolves a marriage. An annulment, however, treats the marriage as though it never happened. For some people, divorce carries a stigma and they would rather their marriage be annulled. Others prefer annulment because it may be easier to remarry in their church if they go through an annulment rather than a divorce. Grounds for annulment vary slightly from state to state. Usually an annulment will be granted if there has been an incidence of misrepresentation or fraud in a marriage, such as when a spouse lies about his or her ability to have children, or lies about being old enough to marry without parental consent. Annulments are also granted on the grounds of concealment, such as when a spouse hides an addiction to alcohol or drugs, conviction of a felony, children from a prior relationship, a sexually transmitted disease, or impotency. Couples married within the Roman Catholic Church may obtain a religious annulment after obtaining a civil divorce in order for one or both spouses to remarry. Most annulments take place after a couple has been married only for a short period of time, usually six months or less, and there are usually no assets or debts to divide, or children for whom custody, visitation, and child support are a concern. When a long-term marriage is annulled, most states have provisions for dealing with property and debts, as well as determining custody, visitation, child support, and alimony.

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