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Annulment can have financial benefits over divorce

Many of us had a hearty laugh over the short-lived marriage of socialite Kim Kardashian and NBA player Kris Humphries. But their consideration of an annulment was comparatively wise, especially for two people with massive fortunes.

Even for us average Joes, an annulment has some financial advantages over a divorce, particularly when it comes to the division of assets and property.

In an annulment, the court tries to restore each party's finances to their original state, which means you can avoid a bitter, drawn-out battle over who should get what. Instead, the assets, property and debt that you brought to the marriage stay with you when you leave the marriage. This is radically different from divorce, especially in Texas, which is a community property state. This means that when you and your spouse divorce, your property and assets are typically divided evenly. Getting an annulment means you won't lose anything you had before you said "I do."

If you did manage to acquire debt while you were together, both you and your spouse are 100 percent responsible for paying it off, just as if you shared a joint credit card. A creditor can come after both of you if you fail to pay that debt.

Of course, not every married couple is eligible for annulment. In the state of Texas, your failed marriage must meet at least one of several conditions. These include:

• Either you or your spouse was under the legal age of 14. You may also be eligible if you were between 14 and 18 but didn't get your parents' permission to marry.

• At least one party was intoxicated or mentally incompetent.

• The marriage took place within 72 hours of procuring a marriage license.

• Your previous marriage hadn't been dissolved.

• You were married under fraud, duress or force.

• One of you concealed your impotence, whether mental or physical.

There are also time limits under which you can seek an annulment. But if you do qualify, it's a good idea to consult with an attorney who practices family law to discuss all of your options and decide whether annulment is the best move for you and your spouse.

Source: Creditcards.com, "Annulment vs. divorce: How it impacts finances," Tamara E. Holmes, Dec. 30, 2011

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