We handle family and divorce cases.
When is Annulment an Option?
Today, we will discuss annulment, as a possible alternative to divorce. We will discuss what it is, how it differs from divorce, and when it is available. Also, at the end of this post, we will direct you to other posts about when to consider either option.
Annulments are judgments of a court that declare that a purported marriage was never valid. In contrast, divorces are judgments of a court that dissolve a valid marriage. While there is no existing marriage once either of those judgments is entered there are significant practical differences between the two procedures.
Previously, we have discussed the benefits of a happy marriage, as well as warning signs in this article; and, the types of marriages that might be saved, and are worth fighting for, in this post following-up the first one. Today, we will discuss different types of commitments to a marriage, and which is required for a marriage to be happy and thrive (and so, for divorce to not need to be considered).
In traditional, ceremonial, marriages, the individuals to be married make vows to one another. They, typically, will publicly attest to their mutual love, devotion, and expressed intention to work towards a lifelong, supportive relationship. That commitment is usually “for better, or for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health; to love and to cherish, till death do us part.” And yet, despite those vows, many once-married people find themselves divorcing or divorced. Why is that?
Notice that the vows cited above do not express how the couple will stay together through troubling times. There is no mention of what actions they will take when warning signs (discussed in the articles linked above) present themselves. Divorce should not be considered, at least not initially, in a non-abusive relationship, where the partners are appropriately committed. So, that raises the issue: what type of commitment is “appropriate?”
In the last post, we discussed the initial four steps to take after deciding to divorce. That article is here. Being familiar with those actions, will help put these next steps into context. As we stated there, ideally you would work through all of these steps before a divorce is initiated by either spouse. Your head will be clearer then, and you will be able to think without the stress of a pending divorce hanging over your head.
Step 5 - Secure Your Information. The first obvious step in this regard is to change your mailing address; but not for your spouse’s mail. And, advise people whom you expect might write to you, to use your new mailing address (which might be a post office box). Storing copies of important documents electronically, in the cloud, is a good way to be able to access them. But, it’s only good if you, and only you, can access them. So, new accounts and passwords are a must.
Deciding to divorce is a big decision. Once it has been made, proper preparation is, like with so many things in life, a key to making the outcome more likely to be positive for you and your family. And, yet, because it can be such an emotional decision, many people do not develop a plan for successfully moving through the process. This piece is designed to guide you in developing that plan.
Initially, it is important to go through this process before beginning the divorce. That is when issues can be pondered without having the pressure of a pending divorce affecting your decision-making
Step 1 Who will be your allies during this process? Divorce can be emotionally-taxing. One or both spouses may make emotional decisions that create chaos, confusion, or worse. It is easier to get through those times with allies---family members and friends who can provide support. It is also important to have people who you can talk to regularly; esp. if other family members and friends decide to not be there for you at this time. Having the support of allies help you to better weather the storms of your case.
Step 2 Do you understand the property matters? Do you have, or can you get, documentation (hard copy and/or virtual) pertaining to all debts and assets of the family? Car titles, mortgage statements, retirement and brokerage account statements, bank or credit union statements, loan applications, credit card bills, health and life insurance policies, and tax returns are all important to have. Do you know where to obtain any of those documents which you do not already have? Is there anyone who can assist you with this process? Be sure to store electronic versions of those documents in the cloud (such as via OneDrive, Dropbox, Google Drive, or Box), so that you can access them from anywhere that you have an internet connection
During the craziness of this year, many of our children find themselves in the unusual circumstance of living in potentially dangerous situations. In addition to the risk of becoming infected with COVID-19, insecurity in income, housing, and food, add stress that affects the lives of many family members. These stressors are currently enhanced, now that family members are forced to spend more time together, indoors,
During times of crisis, society’s most vulnerable members typically are most at risk. And, so it is for children during this time. Having very little power to alter their environment or life situations, they are dependent upon adults to keep them safe and healthy.
Families spending unusually large amounts of time together do well to establish boundaries for playing, working, and attending school. Designating specific areas for those activities, allows family members to operate in a more relaxed manner. And, being relaxed and comfortable is the opposite of feeling overcome by stress!
It is also important to give more thought than usual to securing dangerous items, so that kids are less likely to access them. Think about items such as alcohol, tobacco, prescription (and non-prescription) medicines, and firearms. While those items should always be secured from children, their security is of even greater importance currently, since children have more time athome to explore and to experiment.
And, of course, potential dangers to our children, via the internet, are enhanced now that children spend even more time online, for activities such as their schooling, and other group meetings. In fact, according to the FBI, “The internet, for all of its benefits, also gives criminals and predators an easy way to reach young people. The FBI most often sees crimes against children begin when an adult: