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What Is The Difference Between Divorce And Annulment In Virginia?

There are major differences between a legal annulment and a legal divorce in the commonwealth of Virginia. While a divorce ends a legal marriage, the marriage is still viewed as having been valid under the law prior to the divorce. An annulment takes the extra step of actually voiding the marriage, “as if it had never happened.” 

For a legal marriage to be eligible for annulment in the state of Virginia, certain criteria must be met. In short, some sort of trickery or deception must have taken place. The Fort Lee Traveller describes the following as making a marriage eligible for annulment (either voided, meaning cancelled from the beginning, or voidable, meaning valid until cancelled by election by one party in the marriage) in accordance with Virginia Code Section 20-89.1:

  • Fraud (including bigamy or polygamy) or duress by one or both parties
  • Natural or incurable impotency on the part of one of the parties existing at the time of the marriage
  • One of the parties convicted of a felony (without the knowledge of the other party) prior to the marriage
  • If the wife is pregnant with another man’s child at the time of the marriage, and the husband has no knowledge of the pregnancy by the other man
  • If the husband has a child with another woman within 10 months of the solemnization of the marriage and the wife has no knowledge of the pregnancy before entering into the marriage
  • One party was convicted of being a prostitute prior to the marriage, and the other party had no knowledge of the conviction prior to the marriage 

Speak with an attorney knowledgeable in the areas of Virginia divorce and military divorce for more information on the criteria for a legal annulment. Darrell M. Harding, Attorney at Law has served the Norfolk, Chesapeake and Virginia Beach communities for more than two decades.

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