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Texas divorce different from annulment in important ways

Friday, September 22, 2017

Popular culture often suggests little difference between a divorce and an annulment, but the truth is these are very different proceedings.  A Texas divorce is taken very seriously, so an annulment might sound like a more palatable way to name it. However, the IRS makes important distinctions between the two that are vital for both parties to understand. 

Generally speaking, a court will grant a divorce to a couple who were lawfully married - that is to say, the marriage was valid from day one. An annulment presupposes the marriage was not valid to begin with and, therefore, was never legally binding anyway. One might encounter such a distinction when referring to a marriage that was entered when one or both parties were incapable of comprehending their decision (as in the case of intoxication), if the marriage was predicated on ulterior motives (for example, obtaining a green card) or if one person said "I do" under duress or threat.  

The reason the IRS is so interested in the distinction is because of tax filing status. Simply put, if a marriage was not valid when the couple tied the knot, this means they had no legal right to file as a couple moving forward. This can have profound financial implications for both parties if they filed taxes during their time together before seeking an annulment. 

Taxes can be complicated, particularly as they pertain to a post-Texas divorce situation. Both parties may benefit from a proactive approach to divorce -- learning the ins and outs of the process before seeking an end to their marriage. This can mean the difference between a relatively straightforward divorce and a complicated, more costly process. 

Source: accountingweb.com, "Divorce Versus Annulment: It Makes a Big Difference on Your Tax Return", Julian Block, Feb. 4, 2015

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