When spouses wish to terminate or alter their marital status, they have three options for doing so- legal separation, annulment or dissolution. If spouses choose annulment or dissolution, the marriage is terminated and the spouses become single persons. If they opt to obtain a legal separation, the marital status is not terminated and they are unable to remarry unless or until the marriage is terminated by a later judgment of dissolution; however, legal separation does deal with property rights, child/spousal support, and custody and visitation issues.
Dissolutions terminate existing marriages on grounds arising after the marriage (such as irreconcilable differences). In contrast, annulments are based on the theory that no valid marriage ever occurred (i.e., the marriage was void or voidable (incestuous, bigamous, induced by fraud, one party was under the age of consent, etc.). It can be difficult and/or costly to prove these grounds.
Generally speaking, people who choose legal separation rather than dissolution do so for religious or other personal reasons, such as retaining eligibility for medical insurance that would otherwise be lost by a termination of the marriage.
If you are considering terminating your marriage, please contact Lonich & Patton to set up a free 30 minute consultation with an attorney to discuss which option may be right for you.