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Marriage Annulment in Arizona

Marriage annulment is a term many people have heard of, but only a few really understand. Forget about what you may have heard about annulment on TV. There are actually two types of marriage annulments: civil and religious. A religious annulment is granted by a religious institution like a church and its clergy. Civil annulment is granted by a court of law and affects your legal civil status. This article explains civil annulment.

What is Civil Annulment in Arizona?

Civil marriage annulment takes place when a court declares that a marriage is not valid but void. It means that the court legally declares that for legal purposes the couple was never married. It can be confusing, but if what was considered a marriage was not obtained in accordance with legal requirements for marriage in Arizona, the court can annul the marriage. It’s sort of like a court “erasing” a marriage. It is as if the marriage literally never happened.

The Two Types of Civil Annulment

Courts in Arizona classify annulments in two ways as voidable marriages and void marriages. A void marriage is a union that was not valid from the beginning. Arizona has a list of prohibitions for marriage, such as incest, which would make a marriage completely invalid. If a biological brother and a sister got married, this is not a marriage that the state recognizes as valid, and therefore would incur in a void annulment.   There are several other methods by which a marriage can be deemed void and you should consult a family law attorney for more details.

A voidable annulment is where one party can seek an annulment from a court. For example, if one spouse was deceived into marrying the other, the wronged spouse has the right to request a voidable marriage annulment.  Deception grounds can include, for example, failure to consummate the marriage by one partner refusing to ever have sex with the other spouse at any time after the ceremony.  Again, consultation with legal counsel is critical before you seek annulment.

Is an Annulment Any Different from Divorce?

Getting a divorce involves going through often-lengthy court proceedings to formally end a marriage. The important difference between divorce and annulment is that in the case of the former, the courts recognize the marriage as valid, and thus to end it there must be divorce proceedings according to the law. Annulments do not require going through lengthy court proceedings. Once a judge declares a marriage invalid, it’s no more.  It typically can occur far faster than a conventional divorce litigation.

It should be understood that not all annulments are quick and painless. There are very specific grounds under which a marriage can be annulled.  Absent qualification for such a remedy, your case will be diverted to a conventional divorce resolution like everyone else.

What are the Grounds for an Annulment?

Under Arizona law, there is a list of “void and prohibited marriages.” Any marriage that falls in this category is not recognized by the state as valid. Arizona prohibits marriage between parents and children, between grandparents and grandchildren, between whole or half-blood brothers and sisters, between first cousins (but only under certain conditions), and between uncles or aunts and nieces and nephews. Same sex marriage was also once considered “void and prohibited”. However, recent Supreme Court rulings have changed that. Same sex marriage is now legal and the law of the land.

There are other reasons a spouse can request an annulment, such as fraud, deception, coercion, intoxication (when getting married), underage marriages without parental consent, mental illness, “mock” marriages, inability to consummate the marriage, bigamy, and incest. To know for sure if your marriage can be annulled, get family law help in Scottsdale.

If the couple has children, the annulment proceedings will determine which party should be responsible for the children. The court may not recognize certain property as “marital assets” if the marriage is considered void. You should contact a lawyer with specifics to find out how annulment proceedings may affect children or assets. Annulment compared to divorce can generate a significantly different outcome in property allocations in any divorce or annulment scenario.