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Annulments and legal separations in Georgia

In addition to divorce, some couples who are ending their marriages are eligible for annulments in which their marriage is declared to be legally invalid. Still other couples who have little hope for reconciliation may choose to enter into a legal separation instead of a divorce. Georgia law provides grounds under which some people may be eligible for annulments and a method by which people can become legally separated instead of divorced as well.

Annulment eligibility is limited to certain categories. In an annulment, the court declares the marriage to be invalid and thus it is treated as if it never existed. If a person tricks another person into marriage through fraud, deceit, coercion or duress, an annulment may be granted. If one person is under the age of 18, the parent may legally void the marriage if the two people did not have parental consent. When a person finds out the spouse was still legally married to another at the time of the marriage, an annulment will be granted.

Some people choose a legal separation instead of a divorce. While a legal separation does not end the marriage, it does allow couples to receive orders regarding certain issues, including support, property division and child custody. Some people choose legal separation as an alternative to divorce for many reasons, including religious prohibitions on divorce or simply needing more time to decide whether divorce is the appropriate option.

Ending a marriage involves many considerations and should not be taken lightly. If a person's marriage did not originally meet the validity requirements of marriage under the law, an annulment can be a good option for people. For those who need legal orders governing their separation but who are not ready to file for divorce, legal separation can provide a method to determine issues after the separation occurs.

Source: GeorgiaLegalAid.org, "Basic Marriage and Divorce Law: Ending Marriages", Carl Vinson, November 18, 2014

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