The purpose of this article is to provide information on marriage annulment and discuss what annulment is; explain how annulment is different from divorce; provide information on marriage annulment laws in Colorado; elucidate the requirements and/or grounds for annulment in Colorado; and talk about why it’s wise to talk with a divorce lawyer about your marriage annulment.
What is an Annulment of Marriage?
Marriage annulment is a legal procedure which cancels or voids a marriage; annulments mean that the marriage never legally existed. The grounds for annulment are highly specific, and these grounds must be proven for a successful annulment of marriage outcome.
Annulment vs. Divorce
Both annulments and divorce have the same effect in terms of dissolving a marriage. However, annulments and divorce signify different legal outcomes and precedents. When the court decides that a marriage is invalid, an annulment is granted. This is quite different from divorce, which refers to legal dissolution of a marriage. Annulments represent a way to exit a situation in which a couple should have never been married; for example, a man and woman get married, but years later, she learns that her husband had a previous family and even children in the previous marriage. An annulment could be filed in this case, and the court could declare the marriage null and void, as if the couple was never married at all.
The legal grounds for an annulment are much more stringent than for divorce. Typical grounds for annulment include fraud; misrepresentation; concealment of major facts such as a record of serious crimes; misunderstanding; impotency or incest; and lack of consent. In situations other than these, a divorce would be the primary legal recourse for a couple wishing to obtain legal separation.
Related Topic: The Difference Between Divorce & Legal Separation
Marriage Annulment Laws in Colorado
Colorado laws allow annulments in limited circumstances, and the process of annulment is different from divorce proceedings. While Colorado does not offer an official legal action designated as an annulment, parties can request a ‘declaration of invalidity’ which is similar to an annulment of marriage. If the Colorado judge grants the declaration of invalidity, then just as with an annulment, it will mean that the marriage was never legally valid.
Grounds for Annulment in Colorado
According to Colorado law, parties seeking annulment must be able to successfully prove one of the following grounds in court:
- One of the spouses did not have the mental capacity to be married, either due to mental problems or due to drug or alcohol dependence
- One party was not of sufficient age to be married
- One of the spouses is impotent, and the other spouse did not know before marriage
- One or both parties married under duress – that is, as a result of coercion by someone else
- The marriage occurred as a result of a fraud committed by one of the parties of the marriage. This could mean that the marriage was done coercively or as a joke, dare, or misrepresentation.
- The marriage was voided due to cases of incest, polygamy, or other situations which are prohibited by Colorado law
- One spouse married due to fraudulent activity on the part of the other spouse which undercut the heart of the marriage. For example, a marriage could be declared invalid if one party marries the other solely to obtain U.S. residency, or solely for financial gain.
Divorce Lawyers in Marriage Annulment Cases
Consulting with a divorce lawyer when looking to annul a marriage can ensure the best possible outcome. Your divorce lawyer can work with you to ensure that your case fits within the grounds for annulment and can make sure that the proper steps are followed in the overall process of obtaining an annulment. Working with a Colorado divorce lawyer can therefore ensure that the annulment process is faster, less stressful, and more successful for couples.