Both annulment and divorce end a marriage, but an annulment treats the marriage as if it never existed. An individual wondering about this approach to the dissolution of marriage will find that the grounds required for an annulment are very specific. As with divorce, an annulment must be granted by a court.
A marriage that is prohibited by state law may be annulled within 10 years. The time limit is not applicable, however, if one of the spouses has a different spouse who was alive at the time the new marriage occurred. An annulment may also be granted in a case involving a spouse who was less than 16 years old or who was 16 or 17 years old and got married without parental consent or judicial approval. In order to obtain an annulment in such a case, a parent, guardian or underaged spouse may file prior to that individual's reaching 18 years of age. A parent may file suit within one year of learning about the marriage.