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What Is the Difference Between a Divorce and an Annulment?

Ending a marriage is hard. It is one of the most trying periods of a person’s life. There could be financial changes, emotional trauma, and several difficult moves. If you are looking into separating from your spouse, it is important to be informed about your options.

Read on to find out more about the difference between annulment and divorce. While both are the end to a marriage, the qualifications needed to be granted a divorce or an annulment differ, so too do the effects.

divorce papers and rings

What Is a Divorce?

Simply put, a divorce ends a legal marriage. There is a multitude of reasons to pursue a divorce, including infidelity, abandonment, and imprisonment. Even if no event, disagreement, or ongoing crisis caused the divorce, ‘no-fault’ divorces are legal in every state. A ‘no-fault’ divorce means that neither spouse is responsible for the end of the marriage, but that both partners want to end the union.

In some states, couples are required to go through a trial separation period before proceeding with a divorce.

At the end of a divorce, the marriage is dissolved. The former partners in a divorce will now be ‘divorcees.’

What Is an Annulment?

An annulment, on the other hand, is the declaration that a marriage was not legally valid in the first place. There are several reasons why a marriage may be annulled:

  • One or both spouses were tricked into the marriage
  • One or both spouses were not able to consent to the marriage due to the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • One or both spouses were already married
  • One or both spouses were not of age
  • The spouses were related (incest)
  • Major issues on the part of a spouse were concealed e.g. drug addiction, criminal history
  • One spouse was impotent

At the end of the annulment, the marriage is declared invalid, and it is as if it never existed. The former partners in an annulment will be ‘single’ or ‘unmarried.’

annulment

Further Differences Between Divorce and Annulment

Other than the fundamental difference between divorces and annulments, that is, dissolving a valid marriage or declaring a marriage was not valid in the first place, there are several other distinctions between divorces and annulments to note.

  • Length of Time Before Filing — In Iowa, you must have been an Iowa resident for one year before you file for divorce. There is no required period of trial separation before you file divorce papers. There is no delay or waiting period required for annulment.
  • Children — In both cases of divorce and cases of annulment, children that come out of the marriage are considered legitimate.
  • Alimony — In cases of divorce, the court could designate the amount of alimony a spouse has to pay. In cases of annulment, the court does not have this power.
  • Witness and Proof — Annulments have to meet at least one of the qualifications listed above. There has to be proof that the marriage was invalid or unlawful ‘from the get-go.’ On the other hand, there is no need for witnesses or proof in every divorce scenario. You can be granted a divorce simply because you want one — which is called a ‘no-fault’ divorce. However, if you are ending a marriage due to adultery, for example, proof will be required.
  • Division of Property — The division of property is one of the most difficult and drawn-out parts of a divorce. However, in an annulment, the courts will attempt to return all property to the person it belonged to before the marriage.

Religious Requirements Surrounding Divorce and Annulment

Many religions have their own requirements surrounding divorce and annulment. In many cases, you will need to obtain permission from a religious leader to be granted an annulment or divorce. It is important to note that this process is entirely separate from the civic process of ending your marriage.

Call Us Today

Ending your marriage is frightening. In all likelihood, your world is about to be turned upside down. There are a million pieces of paper you have to find and collect, there are friends you have to call, realtors to reach out to, and children you have to have a difficult conversation with. You need a professional in your corner.

The attorneys at Arenson Law Group, PC are here for you. We have served your community for years, and are ready to help you move into this next stage of life. Call us today at (319) 363-8199. We will walk you through every step of this process with compassion and skill.


How Is Property Division Determined in Iowa?

Divorce proceedings can be mentally and emotionally exhausting. Even small disagreements can seem massive because of the emotional tension between two spouses. Dividing property and assets can be a source of considerable tension. Some people want to leave their marriage with the assets they entered the marriage with. Ultimately, many spouse’s goals are to leave their marriage with what they believe they are owed or have earned.

In order to reach the best outcome possible in your divorce, you need an experienced divorce attorney to represent you in your divorce proceedings and advocate for your best interests. The divorce attorneys of Arenson Law Group, PC have been representing clients for years and helped them get their fair share in their divorce so they can move on with their future.

divorce discussion

How Is Property Division Determined in Iowa?

During your marriage, you probably didn’t think twice about what was yours and what was your spouse’s. Now that you and your spouse are divorcing, you have to untangle all of your assets or property and liabilities (debt). You’re not required to provide a reason why you’re filing for divorce, and your reasons have no bearing on the determination of the division of property.

Property includes any home or real estate, cars, jewelry, furniture, businesses, bank accounts, cash, retirement accounts, stock, and option portfolios.

Before you and your spouse married, you had your own property. And when you got married, you and your spouse likely acquired property together. Anything, less any gifts or inheritances, that you and your spouse had before and during your marriage must now be divided between the two. Anything that you and your spouse acquired after the date of your separation is considered separate property.

In the state of Iowa, property must be equitably divided between spouses. This isn’t the same as equally divided property. With equal division, shared property is divided 50/50 between spouses. In Iowa, shared property is divided in a fair and equitable way, which may not be 50/50 between spouses. In determining the division of property in your divorce, several factors are considered. These include the length of your marriage, the age and health of both you and your spouse, both of your contributions to the marriage and each other, including financial, child-rearing, and homemaking, as well as pension benefits.

The value of your shared property will be divided between you. For example, if two spouses have shared property totaling a home worth $400,000, a car worth $50,000, and a retirement account worth $300,000, one spouse may be awarded the car and retirement account, and one spouse may be awarded the home. As you can see, it’s difficult dividing assets without knowing the value of the property. This is an important part of dividing property between spouses and can take time — documenting and providing an accurate accounting of all property, including specifying what is shared property and what is separate property.

How your property will be divided and other pertinent decisions about your divorce may be decided in mediation or in court. Mediation is a less formal proceeding where a neutral third party facilitates negotiation between spouses to help them reach a divorce settlement.

The Iowa divorce attorneys of Arenson Law Group, PC can help you catalog all of the property in the marriage and help represent you so that you get your fair share. We will work hard to help you get the property you wish to keep after the divorce.

cut marriage rings divorce!

Why You Need Arenson Law Group, PC Divorce Attorneys

Arenson Law Group, PC has been representing the people of Iowa for over a decade in a range of legal matters, including business and corporate law, litigation, estate planning and probate law, construction law, and in many family law issues.

We are members of the Iowa State Bar and National Bar Association and are admitted to practice in Iowa, federal and appeals courts.

The divorce attorneys of Arenson Law Group, PC have been helping Iowans reach their desired outcomes in their divorce cases. We have years of experience advocating for our clients’ wishes in their divorces, from the division of their property to spousal support and child custody. Our success in representing our clients has earned us recognition from Expertise.com, which named us one of the Best Divorce Lawyers in Cedar Rapids in 2021.

Contact an Arenson Law Group, PC Divorce Attorney Today

If you are going through a divorce, you need a divorce attorney that can help you get what you deserve. Dividing property between you and your spouse can be confusing. The divorce attorneys at Arenson Law Group, PC can help you navigate the complex nature of property division and help you get what you believe you are owed in the divorce. We’re here to help you. Call us today at (319) 363-8199, or contact us online to speak with one of our attorneys directly about your divorce.


Can I Text My Child When They Are with My Ex?

When parents are separated, the most important decision that needs to be made is who will have custody of the child and when. Child custody can be a contentious family issue because each parent has parental rights and wants to make sure their parental rights are enforced. Every parent wants what’s best for their child, but both parents’ ideas of what’s best for their child can conflict.

Child custody and visitation agreements generally cover everything pertaining to the child, and each parent must abide by those agreements. Custody orders are enforced by the law. But sometimes, the law and custody orders don’t address specific scenarios. If you are sharing custody of your child with the other parent or have visitation orders and have questions regarding your parental rights, you need an experienced family law attorney to help untangle the issues.

exwife phone call

Child Custody and Visitation

When deciding on child custody and visitation, the court has one main objective: to do what is in the best interest of the child and what best supports their welfare.

Parents may be awarded legal custody, where they have the authority to make decisions as to the child’s welfare, such as where they will go to school, where they’ll get their medical care, and what religious practices they’ll engage in. In specific cases, the court may find that one parent is unfit to be awarded legal custody, in which case one parent will be awarded sole custody of the child.

Courts typically aim to award both parents legal custody, recognizing that it is generally in the child’s best interest for the child to have “maximum continuing physical and emotional contact with both parents.” Courts determine which parent will be awarded custody of their child based on several factors, the most important of which are considerations that reflect the best interests of the child and the parents’ abilities to communicate about the child.

In Iowa, the courts also determine with which parent the child will reside. This is known as “physical placement.” One or both parents could be given physical care of the child. The custodial parent is with whom the child will live most of the time, but even in cases of joint custody, both parents have equal rights to the child’s physical care.

If you’re awarded joint physical care of the child, then you and the other parent will have to submit to the court a joint physical care parenting plan. In that plan, you and the other parent will detail how you will share physical care of the child, when each parent will have the child with them, and how you will communicate with each other and facilitate each other’s time with the children. If one parent is awarded sole physical care of the child, the other parent still retains their right to time with the child and their right to legal custody of the child (if it was awarded to them).

dad with daughter and phone

So, Can I Text My Child When They Are with My Ex?

The short answer: it depends. It depends on what was stipulated in the custody arrangement agreement. Unless a parent’s rights to legal custody were rejected due to a history of abuse or because their contact with the child would result in physical or emotional harm to the child, then a parent isn’t typically prohibited from contacting their child. Your parental rights include the right to contact your child even when they are in the physical care of their other parent. If you are concerned about your ability to communicate with your child when they are not in your care, then you should contact an attorney. You may need to petition the court for a modification of your custody or visitation agreement.

Why Choose Arenson Law Group, PC?

Our family law attorneys have years of experience representing clients in various family law matters, including divorce, alimony, child support, child custody, and visitation. We are admitted to practice law in the state of Iowa and are members of the Iowa State Bar Association. We believe in advocating for our clients’ best interests with compassion, and our commitment is to help them reach their legal goals in their cases.

Call Us Today

If you have concerns and questions about your child custody arrangement or are concerned about your parental rights, contact Arenson Law Group, PC today at (319) 363-8199 to speak with one of our experienced divorce attorneys. We are here to help you.


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