We encounter many clients who want to end their marriages but don’t believe in divorce. We also see our fair share of people who don’t believe in divorce but have been served with divorce papers, anyways.
If you want to end your marriage but do not believe in divorce for religious reasons, you may be able to get a legal separation – or an annulment if your marriage was not legitimate, in the first place. If your spouse has served you with divorce papers, and you don’t believe in divorce, there is not much you can do.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter whether you believe in divorce in most cases, and you can’t prevent someone from divorcing you.
Alternatives to Divorce
If you want to end your marriage but don’t believe in divorce, you can pursue a legal separation. In a legal separation, you stay married to your spouse, but you do not have to live together, and you can separate your assets, debts, and childcare responsibilities with a separation agreement. Your spouse can also stay on your health insurance and vice-versa.
The only problem with a separation agreement is that you are still legally married, so you cannot get remarried.
If you were to marry someone else, your second marriage would be considered bigamy and be void from its inception. Speaking of void and voidable marriages, there is another alternative to divorce – if certain requirements are met.
Legally speaking, an annulment makes it so your marriage never existed. In California, you can get an annulment if:
- You were too young to get married (under the age of 18)
- You got married because of fraud or deception (e.g., someone married you just to get their Green Card)
- You were forced to get married (with threats and/or violence)
- You did not understand the commitment you were making (due to a developmental disability, mental illness, etc.)
- You and your spouse cannot consummate your marriage (have sex)
Keep in mind that religious annulments, such as those offered by the Catholic church, are different from legal annulments. Getting a legal annulment in California can be difficult, and you will have to prove that your marriage is void or voidable.
Additionally, some grounds for annulment have statutes of limitations (deadlines). For example, individuals who were married before they turned 18 can only file for an annulment within 4 years of their marriage.
Making Peace with Divorce
You may be willing to fight for your marriage, but you cannot save a relationship without your partner. If your spouse has asked you for a divorce, you will need to make peace with their decision, which can take a long time.
Sometimes, a marriage must end due to domestic violence. In this situation, getting a divorce could save your life. Other times, a marriage is not redeemable because one spouse continually cheats and breaks the other’s trust.
No matter what the reasons for a divorce may be, you are better off sharing your life with someone who honors you and the promises you made to one another. Remember that “your partner's view and actions [are not] under your jurisdiction.”
You can’t control your partner’s decisions, but you can respect them, forgive your partner, forgive yourself, and try to move forward.
Often, divorce offers both spouses a fresh start and opens the door to a much better future.
Sadly, belief is not enough to hold a marriage together. If you’ve done everything you can to make your marriage work, and you still received divorce papers, the kindest thing you can do for yourself is sign them and move on with your life.
Of course, you will need to protect your best interests and work to maintain your quality of life, so you will want to hire a divorce lawyer who understands you.
At Cecil Cianci Law, PC, we take a unique approach and personalized strategy for every case. We can help you with your divorce, legal separation, or annulment – and we will always keep your priorities in mind.
For a creative solution to one of life’s most difficult problems, please call us at (916) 675-3866 or send us a message today.