Marriage, like any kind of relationship, can eventually fizzle out. Some try to rekindle the flame, others let it die out. When it has truly run its course, couples often think of their options—legal separation, annulment or divorce.
If you find yourself in such a situation, breathe and consider very carefully which option you as a couple should pick. Read on to know which action best suits everyone’s needs.
Legal Separation: Quitting, for Now.
Sometimes, both of you don’t want the marriage to end. You just want to rebuild your own life apart from the one you used to love. Some states offer legal separation as an option for couples to start again. Often opted by those with fervent religious beliefs, this court-ordered sanction formalizes the separation between a couple while staying legally married. Specifics of the agreement may include any financial obligations, child custody, support and visitation.
Some legal separation cases end up in divorce, others reconcile again. When couples do ultimately decide to dissolve the marriage, legal separation then becomes this stepping stone to help their kids easily acclimatize and adjust to the situation.
Annulment: Marriage Voided.
You can never take the memories, all the decisions and mistakes away, but you can always make it seem like it never happened at all. Same goes with marriage. Some couples who are against divorce (or at least, live in a country that outlaws divorce) choose annulment to dissolve their marriage. With this process, a couple asserts to the courts that the marriage never actually happened from the very beginning.
Legal annulment—which is different from religious annulment—needs to meet legal grounds such as fraud, concealment or misunderstanding. Basically, if one of the spouse have hid any information that changes everything for them, such as already being married or having a felony, they can obtain annulment from the court. Typically, this kind of dissolution happens due to such legal grounds being discovered early during the marriage. Long-term marriage annulment is still plausible.
Divorce: Getting Uncoupled.
In 2014, actress Gwyneth Paltrow and Coldplay frontman Chris Martin announced their“conscious uncoupling” from each other. To put it simply, called it quits. Divorce is the more popular way of dissolving a marriage legally. It involves the couples asserting to the court that the marriage has finally run its course and that they should now be treated as individuals again. It used to be more difficult to be granted divorce, but it has become more accessible due to the no-fault divorce laws; no one has to be legally at fault to split with your spouse.
Some do it after a trial separation; others do it on a whim. Divorce, like Paltrow and Martin’s, can be friendly. But most of the time, it’s a legal battleground that tears a person to shreds. Instead of a typical end of a marriage, it becomes a test of endurance where no one leaves unscathed. Without a good divorce attorney, you might get the short end of the stick in the uncoupling, conscious or not.
The end of a marriage can be a new beginning for everyone. All that’s left is for everyone to pick up the pieces and start again. Maybe someday love will find a way again, but this time, you’re better prepared.