Breaking the Knot: 3 Options to Legally End a Marriage

Woman taking ring off

On your wedding day, you’ve sworn to live together in sickness and in health, in joy and sorrow, and through the good and the bad. Not all couples, however, can hold on to this promise and so they decide to put an end to their marriage.

While you can try to resolve the issues you’re facing in your relationship, ending it, in some cases, could be the only option. If you and your spouse are planning to part ways, there are three legal ways to consider. Work with a family law attorney to help you understand the right option for your case.

Ending a Lifetime Promise

Going through separation can be a complicated process. Knowing your options is essential to ease the impact.


This is a way of terminating a marriage through a legal proceeding. Here, you or your spouse have to file a petition for divorce. It could be a fault divorce, which is based on marital misconduct or other statutory cause. You have to provide sufficient evidence to support your claim when filing a fault divorce.

Additionally, you can also opt for a no-fault divorce where neither you nor your partner has to prove fault. Irreconcilable differences between the parties are enough grounds for this type of divorce. This option, however, may not be available in some states.


Couple filing annulment

Unlike in divorce, an annulment can treat your marriage as though it never existed. You can go for a civil annulment, which is a type of annulment where you must have a valid reason to obtain one. The grounds for annulment include:

  • Fraud or misrepresentation
  • Concealment
  • Misunderstanding
  • Impotence or incest
  • Lack of consent

Another option is a religious annulment, which is entirely separate from a civil action. This type of annulment has different procedures than a court-granted annulment. Instead of a court of law, a diocesan tribunal decides whether to grant you an annulment or not.

Legal Separation

This option is ideal for married couples who want to live apart as unmarried people without going through a divorce. Your marriage does not end with a legal separation, but the court may still decide on financial obligations, custody of children, and separation of assets.

When Things Start to Fall Apart

Several reasons may push married couples to end their marriage. Infidelity, for example, is of the reasons couples file for divorce. Marriage experts explain that cheating starts as an emotional affair that leads to a physical one.

Financial problems often lead to the breakdown of a marriage, too. It can be due to the differences in spending habits and the amount of earnings. If a spouse earns more than the other, there can be a power struggle in the relationship.

In some cases, a lack of physical or emotional intimacy can break a couple apart. It’s your responsibility, as couples, to keep your relationship intimate and special.

Separation of any kind is difficult, especially when children are involved. As such, family members may suggest ways to strengthen your marriage, like getting counseling or spending more time with each other. But if your situation becomes unbearable and unsafe, legal action through divorce, annulment, or legal separation, may be the only option.

About the Author

Scroll to Top