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What Is The Difference Between A Divorce, A Legal Separation And An Annulment?

Coeur d’Alene Lawyer Specializing in Legal Separation and Divorce

A divorce (also called “dissolution of marriage”) ends your marriage. After you get divorced , you will be single, and you can marry again.

If you get divorced, you can ask the judge for orders like child support, spousal support, custody and visitation, domestic violence restraining orders, division of property, and other orders.

To get a divorce, you MUST meet Idaho’s residency requirement. If you’ve reached the point of marital separation or divorce, contact the Advocacy Law Center in Coeur d’Alene to schedule a consultation with one of our legal separation or divorce lawyers.

Idaho Residency Requirements

To file for divorce in Idaho, either you or your spouse must have lived in:

  • Idaho for the last 6 months, AND
  • The county where you plan to file the divorce for the last 3 months.
  • If you and your spouse have lived in Idaho for at least 6 months but in different counties for at least 3 months, you can file in either county. If you don’t meet the residency requirement, you can still file for a legal separation. Once enough time has passed so that you meet the residency requirement for a divorce, you may file an “amended petition” and ask the court for a divorce.

Legal Separation

A legal separation does not end a marriage. You can’t marry someone else if you are legally separated (and not divorced). A legal separation is for couples that do not want to get divorced but want to live apart and decide on money, property, and parenting issues. Couples sometimes prefer separation for religious reasons.

You do not need to meet Idaho ‘s residency requirement to file for a legal separation . If you file for a legal separation , you may later be able to file an amended petition to ask the court for a divorce – after you meet the residency requirements.

In a legal separation case, you can ask the judge for orders like child support, spousal support, custody and visitation, domestic violence restraining orders, or any other orders you can get with a divorce case.


An annulment (or “nullity of marriage”) is when a court says your marriage is NOT legally valid. A marriage that is incestuous or bigamous is never valid. Other marriages can be declared “void” because:

  • Of force, fraud, or physical or mental incapacity;
  • one of the spouses was too young to legally marry;
  • or one of the spouses was already married.

Annulments are very rare. If you ask to have your marriage annulled , you will have to go to hearing with a judge.

Note: If you have children in common with the other party, you must ask the court to establish the parentage of that person. Contact us to find out more.

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