Annulment vs. Divorce: How Are The Two Different?

LegalKart Editor
LegalKart Editor 05 min read 710 Views
Last Updated: Nov 24, 2023
Difference between annulment of a marriage and divorce

India is a country of rich cultural diversity. Each culture has its own way of treating personal and family relationships, especially when it comes to the institution of marriage. In the Hindu religion for example, marriage is considered as the sacred and timeless union of two individuals. On the other hand, in the Muslim religion a marriage or nikah, as it is commonly called, is treated as a mutually accepted civil contract between a husband and wife.


While individuals marry each other in a hope of a bright and happy married life, sometimes due to unavoidable circumstances the married life turns out to be a stressful and troubled one. After a certain threshold of stress, couples mostly take conscious decision to proceed for ending the holy matrimonial alliance. The legal way of doing it is called as divorce, be it with mutual consent of husband or wife or be it a contested one in the family court.

Also Read: How Can You Marry Your Foreign Soul Mate In India, Legally?

In several of our previous posts, we explained in detail about divorce, its types, and the procedure laid by the Indian law to file a petition for divorce in the family courts (contested or mutual consent) of respective jurisdictions for dissolving a marriage.


However, in this post we are sharing details of another different way of terminating a marriage – annulment. It is important to note while both ways ultimately lead to dissolution of marriage. However, both, annulment and divorce, are altogether different ways of ending the matrimonial alliance.


Note: In this post, we are sharing the details about divorce and annulment of marriage based on the Hindu Marriage Act 1955. However, different Indian religions may have different provisions for handling matters as sensitive as divorce or annulment of marriage. You may please consult a professional divorce lawyer for getting proper guidance on the subject.

Also Read:  Alimony Explained: How To Calculate Alimony/Maintenance In India

While both of these terms appear to mean the same and intention is to get relief from a troubled married life, the two terms are different in the practice. Let us understand some more details about annulment of marriage and divorce by looking at the differences as mentioned in the below table:






It is defined as the legal method of ending or terminating a legally valid marriage.

It is defined as declaring a marriage as legally invalid or null and void.

View on Marriage

Even when couples are legally divorced, they are seen as previously married.

Annulment views marriage as it never existed at any point in time.

Legal Status

Marital status of couples is considered as Divorced.

Marital status of couples is considered as Single or Unmarried.


Couples living in a troubled marriage make a prayer to the family court for ending the legal marital bond – mutual consent or contested.

Only one-party files for annulment petition in court challenging the legal sanctity of the marriage under consideration.

Reason of terminating marriage

There could be several reasons or faults for a troubled marriage:

  • Ego clashes
  • Abuse – Physical, Mental or Sexual
  • Irreconcilable difference of opinion
  • Financial problems
  • Family issues
  • Extra marital affair
  • Religion conversion
  • Unsound mind
  • Communicable disease


The reasons of divorce, however, may or may not be specific or justified.

Few common reasons of annulment can be:

  • Marriage of person happened prior to legal age and without consent of court and family.
  • Fraud – one partner was already married to someone else before marrying the second person.
  • Impotency or inability to have children.
  • Misrepresentation or concealment of facts like serious or terminal illness or use of narcotic drugs.


The reasons of annulment needs to be very specific or justified.

Responsibility after decree is granted

Once the divorce decree is granted, alimony needs to be paid by one spouse to the other as per the merit of the case.

Post annulment there are no duties or obligations of couples towards each other.

Time Frame

A divorce decree is granted to a petition filed based on mutual consent of husband and wife in a maximum time period of 18 months.


It is difficult to put a timeline on a contested divorce as it may take longer times based on the merit of the case.

An individual needs to wait for at least one year from the date of marriage before filing for annulment petition. However, timeline for granting the annulment is not defined and depends on the merit of the case.

Applicable Section

As per the Hindu Marriage Act 1955, Section 13 is applicable for filing a divorce petition.

As per the Hindu Marriage Act 1955, Section 5 is applicable for filing a annulment petition.

Legal Status of Children

The legal status of biological children, if any, of divorced parents remains unchanged. However, the custody of children is decided as per provisions mentioned in the Hindu Marriage Act 1955.

The children born before a marriage is declared null and void are not considered as illegitimate. Their legal status remains intact as per provisions of respective law(s).

Division of Assets

The assets of both partners are divided equally as per provision of the law.

The assets are not divided in any form.

Role of witnesses

Witnesses may or may not be required in divorce proceedings.

Witnesses are mandatorily required in the annulment proceedings.


Also Read: Divorce Simplified: Types of divorce and divorce procedures in India


What is the need of the divorce lawyer?

As we have stated several times previously, one need to deal with the legal matters with utmost care and as per the provisions stated in the law, especially when matters are as sensitive as marriage annulment or divorce. Whether it is a proceeding for divorce or annulment of marriage, the entire process can be extremely stressful, complicated, time taking and costly affair. Hence, it becomes utmost necessary to employ a qualified and competent divorce lawyer who will assist them in each step of the proceedings. 

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