During a divorce, an already existing marriage is being brought to a finish. On the other hand, a marriage annulment proceeding is a legal decree being made that a marriage is null and void. Dissolution of marriage will be granted when the court is convinced that the marriage is invalid. After an annulment is successful, both parties can remarry or get into domestic partnerships with other people.
Just like in the case of a divorce, the court presiding over the annulment can still make decisions concerning issues of alimony, child support, custody, and property division. Since they are not as common many people wonder if they need a lawyer for a marriage annulment.
Colorado is a bit different compared to other states when it comes to the declaration of annulment cases. The state of Colorado does not have an annulment of marriage as official court action. Even so, you can ask a judge for a declaration of invalidity. It is similar to an annulment. Suppose the family judge grants your request for a declaration of invalidity. In that case, it will mean that your marriage was not valid.
Most states do not favor legal annulment as a public policy. Most courts prefer to dissolve a marriage through a divorce or solve marriage-related concerns via legal separation proceedings. There are only a few instances where annulling a marriage is acceptable.
It is possible to file for annulment and have a court deny your request. When this happens, there are only three options that you are left with to pursue. You can choose to stay married to your spouse, get a divorce, or pursue a legal separation.
Who Can File for a Marriage Annulment?
Either you or your partner can file for a petition for invalidity. For your marriage to be annulled in Colorado, you should file a petition for an invalidity plea with a district court. You will need to be able to prove that you are entitled to an annulment. You can do this by showing one or more grounds for divorce in Colorado.
An annulment can be finalized in a few months. However, if the annulment is contested, it can be time-consuming. The cost of an uncontested annulment can be relatively low. If the other party contests the annulment, the process can be expensive.
If you qualify to get an annulment, you or the family law attorney representing you has to fill out the relevant forms and submit them to the family court in the county you reside in to get started on the process. After an annulment request, you will need to move fast since a deadline may apply.
Depending on the reason why you are filing for an annulment, you will have a specific deadline. If you are filing for a divorce because of a lack of capacity to consent, coercion, or fraud, you will have 6 months to act. You may have 1 or 2 years for other reasons for filing the petition of invalidity. When you are successful, your marital status will change from married to single, and it will as if you were never married.
You have to have lived within the state of Colorado for at least 30 days before pursuing an annulment. However, if you got married in the state of Colorado, you can file the petition at any period of time.
Different Types of Annulment Proceedings
There are 2 types of annulments that one can pursue. It can either be a civil annulment or a religious annulment.
Your state will issue a civil annulment if you meet the legal requirements and change your marital status. This type of annulment has to go through your local court, and you have to request the annulment in the same way you would a divorce.
While requesting a religious annulment, you have to ask for the church to grant it. It is important to note that despite your religious beliefs a religious annulment will not be able to terminate a legal marriage.
The party seeking the annulment has to prove that the other party was at fault for the marriage for a judicial declaration on the annulment of the marriage to be made. They have to show the spouses actions that make the marriage void. An annulment and at-fault divorce are almost similar, but they have different outcomes.
Grounds for Obtaining a Marriage Annulment
In statute 14-10-111 in the state of Colorado, you can prove that your marriage is invalid. Here are the circumstances that are mainly common ground for divorce in Colorado.
Impotency or Failure to Consummate
One spouse’s failure to consummate within one year will give the other party grounds for divorce. Also, if the spouse is impotent and the other party did not know before getting married, it can provide grounds for the annulment of the marriage.
If one of the parties used a scam, lie, or misrepresentation and it led to the marriage.
Lack of Capacity
This happens when one party cannot consent to marriage because they are of unsound mind or have mental incompetence. Also, suppose they are under the influence of drugs or any intoxicating substance at the time. In that case, it will be grounds for annulment.
Lack of Age of Minors
In Colorado, for both parties to consent to marriage, they must be 18 years old. If they are not of the legal age for marriage but they have consent from the guardian or parents, the marriage will be legal. If one or both parties are not of legal age at the time of marriage, the marriage can be dissolved.
Marriage under Duress
This happens if both or one of the parties did not get married out of their own free will. Threats, intimidation, or even another form of duress can be used by a third party to force either one or both parties to enter into a union.
Incest or Bigamy
Marriage is prohibited by law when one or both partners are closely related by blood. They can be cousins, brothers, or other close blood relatives. If one of the spouses is already married, the marriage will be annulled.
Another reason why a marriage can be annulled is if one or both of the parties entered into the marriage as a jest or dare.
There is a need for proof to show that these circumstances are factual. The evidence can be in the form of witnesses, supporting documents, pictures, plus other materials or expert opinions.
Effects of an Annulment
An annulment dissolution petition is almost similar to a legal separation in the case where children are involved. Even if the marriage will be as if it never existed after an annulment petition is successful, the children are recognized as legitimate children. The best interest of the children will be put first. It does not matter who was at fault in the annulment. It will not determine the custody of the children. The only time a party would be denied custody is if there was proof that they were a bad parent.
The court will still need to resolve the financial issues and parenting issues of the parties that were involved in the annulled marriage. Suppose the party committed fraud to woe the other party into marriage. In that case, the court can hold it against that spouse and deny them maintenance or even a share of the marital property.
If an ex-husband was paying spousal maintenance and his ex-wife remarries, they will stop paying for maintenance. If the marriage is annulled, spousal support can be reinstated even though a few factors will be considered before the court reinstates spousal support.
Will You Need to Get a Lawyer for a Marriage Annulment
Annulment cases are complex, and it is necessary to talk to a divorce lawyer before filing for an annulment. A declaration of validity that ends up being successful can get you out of a marriage that was fraudulent or invalid.
When you call an annulment lawyer, they will schedule an initial consultation with you to talk about your case. During the initial consultation, the lawyer will go over your case and then tell you if you can file for an annulment.
In the initial consultation, you can have questions about annulment with which they will answer to gain more insight into your situation. The annulment lawyer will discuss all the options that you have regarding your case. Most attorneys will not charge you for an initial consultation.
Even if you do decide to not have legal counsel before filing for an annulment, consider having legal representation to guide you through the division of assets, issues of child support, and alimony.
If you decide to hire an attorney to help with your annulment, look for family law attorneys with years of experience and are knowledgeable in Colorado annulment laws. There are great benefits that come with hiring a great team of experienced family law experts to work on your case.
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