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Jackson and Kardashian have more in common than you'd think

That's Janet Jackson and Kim Kardashian, two members of an exclusive group of celebrities. What is the common element that these women share with, among a handful of others, Renee Zellweger and Pamela Anderson? Some people will come close if they guess divorced after brief marriages. More accurately, though, all have gone through (or may go through, in Kardashian's case) the annulment of a marriage.

Divorce ends a marriage. An annulment, though, wipes the slate clean; it's as if the marriage never took place. The marriage is null and void.

There are significant differences between the two, of course. There is such a thing as a no-fault divorce -- in Illinois and the rest of the 50 states -- but there is no such thing as a no-fault annulment. An annulment will only be granted under certain circumstances.

In Illinois, a court will invalidate a marriage (it isn't called an annulment here) if, for example, one partner is 16 or 17 years old and entered into the marriage without the consent of a parent, guardian or the court. A bigamous marriage can be annulled, just as a marriage between close relatives can be. These are just a few examples. A full discussion of all the grounds for annulment is a topic for another post.

Because the marriage is invalidated, the couple's finances are treated differently. Each partner is restored to his or her original financial state. Assets, debts and anything else in their ledgers before the marriage go back to them. The fact that most annulments happen very soon after the wedding makes this easier.

We'll continue this in our next post.

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

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