What Are My Options if I Want to End My Marriage?

Ending your marriage doesn’t have to be as stressful and traumatic as it sounds. When you’ve come to your last straw, you may assume that divorce is the only way. However, in 2020, you have options, and it’s best to consider them all before you charge right ahead with legal proceedings.

Currently, you can end your marriage in any of three ways: divorce, legal separation, or annulment.


Back in the day (pre-1970s), someone had to be at fault for a divorce to be legalized. So unless you were a victim of abuse, fraud, adultery, or abandonment, you had to stick it out with an unsavory spouse. However, all U.S. states now allow for “no-fault” divorce, which means that you can hire a divorce attorney to end your marriage simply because you’ve grown apart.

However, if you are suffering from abuse or other criminal behavior from your spouse, like domestic violence it is wise to bring that up during the proceedings. Disclosing this information helps ensure that your assets and children are adequately protected.

It is wise to remember that divorce is final. So if you have any hopes of reconciling with your spouse, you may want to consider a different option before you embark on this journey.

Legal Separation

Hiring a legal separation attorney can be a smart decision for several reasons. Unlike a divorce, legal separation allows you and your spouse to continue sharing certain assets at the court’s discretion. For example, a legal separation in Los Angeles enables you to share health care and social security benefits and make important medical or financial decisions as next of kin. It also allows both spouses to benefit from property rights if one spouse passes. It is true that a legal separation is is sanctioned by a court order, but it is also much easier to undo than a divorce if you are able to reconcile your differences.

Another benefit of choosing legal separation is that the court will help you work out some of the trickier agreements about your children and assets. These terms include child custody, visitation, and support, as well as property division.

If you would like some distance from your spouse, but are still on reasonably amicable terms, a legal separation may be the best choice.

Marriage Annulment

It’s a common misconception that annulment only applies if you never consummated your marriage. However, in 2020, there are many reasons that you can file for an annulment rather than a divorce.

Like a divorce, getting an annulment is final. However, where a divorce terminates your legal married status, an annulment proves that your marriage was never valid to begin with, based on the following legal grounds:

  • Underage marriage. If one or both spouses married before 18, they can file for an annulment up until their 18th birthday.
  • Bigamy: An annulment is always valid if you find out that your spouse was already married at the time of your wedding.
  • Lack of consummation: If you find out after the wedding that your spouse is unable to have intercourse, this is a valid reason for annulment.
  • Unsound mind: This applies to both mental health and drug or alcohol-induced incompetence at the time of your wedding.
  • Fraud or misrepresentation: Hiding important marital information from your spouse until after the wedding is considered fraud. Grounds for fraud include hiding an existing pregnancy, sterility, an intent to live separately or not have physical relations, and the intent to not have children after agreeing to.
  • Incest: When a husband and wife were already closely related before marriage, the court will always grant an annulment.

Closing Thoughts

Each marriage situation is different, so it makes sense for you to find the separation path that best fits your specific needs. It’s always a good idea to talk to an experienced family lawyer, to determine your best options.  If you are considering ending your marriage, you can hire a divorce attorney in Denver from Duncan Family Law so that we may discuss all of your options and how they will affect you and your families lives. We can help you sort through the pros and cons of each option with a level head and make sure that your family and assets are protected throughout the entire process.