When you first decide to separate from your spouse, you may wonder whether you should ask the court for a Divorce (which is also called a Dissolution), an Annulment (also called a Nullity), or a Legal Separation. Many factors can influence your decision on what type of case you will be filing. First, you should know what each term means, in the Family Court.
A Dissolution, or a Divorce, allows the Court to dissolve the legal status of your marriage, and return each spouse to the status of a single person. After you have divorced, you can re-marry. You are typically not allowed to remain covered under your spouse's medical insurance policy, and you cannot file taxes together as a married couple after the last tax year in which you were divorced.
A Legal Separation means that you are still married. Contrary to what many people believe, you are not "Legally Separated" simply because you no longer live together, or because one person has filed for divorce. You might ask for a Legal Separation for religious, personal or financial reasons, when you do not necessarily want to be divorced, but you also do not want to live together with your spouse as a married person.
An Annulment, or a Nullity of marriage is when you ask the court to declare that your marriage was never valid. In order to be granted a Nullity, you must prove one of several legal grounds existed. If your marriage was based on Fraud, if your spouse was already married, if the marriage was never consummated, or either party was incapacitated or a minor, for example, the court may grant you an Annulment. If the legal grounds to not exist for granting an Annulment, you can still file for a divorce. Sometimes people believe that they can be granted an Annulment if their marriage was very short. Having a marriage of very short length is not, however, sufficient legal grounds for a nullity.