Generally speaking, an annulment is an Arizona court’s legal recognition that a marriage is void. Under Arizona law, an annulment is granted by a court if the marriage was void from its inception or if a barrier existed that caused the marriage to be void. In order to be granted an annulment in Arizona, the same procedures must be followed as those who are seeking a regular divorce.
A civil annulment is unlike a religious annulment, which can only be granted by the church or a clergy member within the religion and has no legal effect. Annulments and divorces are similar in that the court makes a determination on the couple’s marital status. They are different, however, in that a divorce ends an existing and valid marriage whereas an annulment declares that what was perceived and understood to be a valid marriage actually was not. According to the law, an annulled marriage never existed in the first place.
Arizona law allows for various grounds to seek an annulment. These include, but are not limited to:
- Bigamy, where one of the parties was married to another at the time;
- Blood relation between the spouses;
- One spouse was a minor at the time of the marriage, who did not obtain parental consent;
- One or both parties –
- lacked the mental or physical capacity to get married;
- was intoxicated at the time of the marriage;
- lacked the intent to enter into a marriage contract;
- The couple failed to obtain an official, proper marriage license;
- One of the parties used duress or fraud to induce the other party to get married;
- One spouse concealed his or her marital status from the other;
- One spouse misrepresented his or her religious beliefs prior to the marriage;
- One spouse quietly planned to dodge a premarital agreement; or
- The couple has not had sexual relations or one party refuses to do so.
Getting an Annulment & its Effects
Arizona’s superior courts have jurisdiction over marriages and someone seeking an annulment needs to file the proper paperwork – known as a “petition” – at his or her local courthouse. After receiving and reviewing all documentation, an Arizona superior court judge can declare a marriage null and void, annulling the nuptials via court order.
A common concern of those considering an annulment who have children is common is paternity. Technically, any children born out of a marriage that is later annulled are illegitimate because the union was never valid to begin with. Notwithstanding, Arizona law provides all children with the same legal protections and courts have expressly decided that parents of children born outside of marriage have shared custody once paternity has been established.
If an annulment is successfully sought, each former spouse is free to tie the knot with someone else without going through a divorce. At the same time, each party forfeits any rights she or he may have enjoyed as a married person such as inheritance, marital property and alimony (commonly referred to as spousal maintenance).
Arizona Annulment Attorney
Just like a divorce, there are serious financial and legal consequences that result from an annulment. Therefore, a skilled family law attorney should be contacted if you or someone you know is considering or facing annulment of a marriage before proceeding. The skilled attorneys at the Law Offices of Ronald L. Kossack have years of experience handling all matters relating to family law, including annulments and divorces, for clients throughout Arizona. Call (480) 345-2652 today to schedule your free, initial, consultation.