Annulment – An order which nullifies a marriage, or declares that no marriage ever existed. Also called declaration of invalidity or declaration of nullity
Marriage Annulment Lawyer
An annulment is a court order which nullifies a marriage, or declares that no marriage ever existed. A marriage can end through death of one of the parties, divorce or annulment. An Annulment occurs when a court declares the marriage to be void or voidable. In both cases, the court can declare the marriage as at an end.
When can a marriage be annulled as void?
Technically, because void marriages were never legal to begin with, there is no need for a formal annulment. The parties can simply walk away from the marriage and get on with their lives. It makes more sense, however, to obtain a formal declaration of annulment to avoid any future legal problems.
A court will set aside a marriage as void in any of the following circumstances:
• The person who solemnized the marriage was not competent to do so (provided that although a marriage solemnized by a person who is not a marriage officer is void, it can be ratified by the Minister of Home Affairs, which will then make it valid);
• The girl was under the age of 15, or the boy was under the age of 18 and did not obtain prior consent from the Minister of Home Affairs (a marriage contracted without his consent is void but the Minister may ratify the marriage, which will then be valid);
• The parties to the marriage were too closely related (related within prohibited degrees);
• One party is already married;
• One party was not of sound mind when they got married.
• The wife was pregnant with the child of another man at the time of marriage;
• Impotence or sterility.
• Duress or intimidation (where one party forces the other into the marriage);
• Fraud or misrepresentation (where one party claims to be something or someone that he or she is not).
Advantages and Disadvantages of Annulment
If you are contemplating whether an annulment is in your best interest, please carefully review the following advantages and disadvantages:
The following are advantages of an annulment proceeding:
• Starting a new marriage as if it were a first marriage may have a positive psychological impact.
• Any stigma of being divorced is avoided.
• Spousal support payments from a prior marriage that were terminated on remarriage may be reinstated if the second marriage is annulled.
• Pension, Social Security, or insurance benefits due from a prior marriage but discontinued at the time of this marriage may be reinstated
• An annulment vitiates all interfamily ties as though they never existed.
• There are no lengthy residency requirements
• There is no 60-day mandatory waiting period before a hearing.
The following are disadvantages of an annulment:
• Spousal support is hardly ever granted.
• The woman has no dower rights in her husband’s property
• Annulment can be barred by estoppels, prior knowledge, condonation, or in pari delicto.
• The proof required for annulment might be more difficult to obtain than proof required in a no-fault divorce action.
• A spouse’s right to Social Security retirement and disability benefits is extinguished.
Why Would You Get an Annulment Instead of a Divorce?
An advantage to having a legally annulled marriage as opposed to a church-based religious annulment, which is something entirely different is that if you get an annulment, it’s as if you were never married. The marriage ends as if it never existed and, in some states, property is not divided. If there are children of the marriage and significant property, your state may require division of property and a custody determination. You’ll want to check to see if your state requires this. If you’re making more money than your spouse, you may want an annulment because there’s usually no alimony in an annulled marriage. Your spouse, however, could be awarded temporary alimony during the annulment process. If you’d rather not say you’re divorced, which is still a stigma in certain religions, you may want to get your marriage annulled. You still, however, must have grounds for annulment. Luckily, even if you get an annulment, any children of the marriage are still legitimate, and your children’s father is still the legal father.
Utah Grounds for Annulment
To have a marriage annulled, you’ll have to prove one of the grounds for annulment. If none of these grounds exist, then you can’t have the marriage annulled. The annulment requirements in most states mean you must show one of the following:
• Fraud or misrepresentation. The spouse seeking the annulment must have relied on this fraud or misrepresentation at the time of the marriage. Some examples are:
• Getting married just to get a green card
• Alleging you can legally consent to marriage when that’s not true
• Alleging you’re able to have children when you can’t
• Alleging you want children when you don’t
• Alleging you’re not married to someone else when you are.
• A spouse couldn’t consent to the marriage because of mental incapacity, use of drugs, or use of alcohol. These show that the spouse was not of sound mind at the time of the marriage or that he didn’t understand the significance of what he was doing.
• A spouse cannot consummate the marriage, such as being unable or refusing to have intercourse, and the other spouse was unaware of this.
• A spouse was under the age of consent and didn’t have permission from parents, guardians, or a court to get married.
• Coercion to marry by force or by threat of force.
• The marriage occurred as the result of a joke or a dare.
• The marriage is void due to bigamy or polygamy.
• The marriage is void due to incest. Some states allow marriages between cousins but not between first cousins.
• Concealment of major issues. Some examples include your spouse’s having:
• A substance abuse or alcohol addiction
• A felony conviction
• Children from a prior relationship (that you didn’t know about)
• Mental health issues
• A sexually transmittable disease
Is There a Statute of Limitations for Getting an Annulled Marriage?
In some states, a marriage annulment timeframe doesn’t exist. You can file for annulment at any time in these states, although the sooner you file, the better. Other states, however, have specific time limits. For example, Utah requires you to file for annulment within six months after you discover duress, fraud, a dare, mental illness, substance abuse, or alcohol abuse. Additionally, spouses in Utah must seek annulment within one year of discovering the other spouse is sexually unable to consummate the marriage. Underage spouses have two years to get an annulled marriage in Utah.
Cost of Annulment in Utah
The marriage annulment cost is often less than a divorce unless your spouse contests the annulment. If so, like a divorce, the cost will increase because there will be additional court appearances. Costs are always changing, as are filing fees, but you can often get your marriage annulled for a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.
Do You Need to Have a Hearing to Get an Annulled Marriage?
In some states, if your spouse agrees to an annulment, you may not have to go to court. An annulment in Utah, however, usually requires a hearing.
How to File for an Annulment in Utah
After you’ve hired a lawyer to handle your annulment, you need to make sure you meet the legal requirements to file for annulment in your state. Many states have residency requirements that must be met in order to file for an annulment or divorce. Next, you’ll need to make sure that you meet your state’s legal requirements for granting an annulment. The exact requirements will vary from state to state, but in general, you may receive an annulment if:
• You and your spouse are blood relatives, such as parent and child, brother and sister or aunt and nephew. A step-parent and step-child relationship may also qualify, as might an adoptive relationship.
• Either spouse was impotent and you were unable to consummate the marriage
• Either spouse was still legally married to another person when your marriage occurred
• Either spouse was not legally old enough to be married
• Either spouse was forced into the marriage
• Either spouse was not mentally competent when entering into the marriage contract. Mental incompetence may be permanent, such as someone who is developmentally disabled, or temporary, such as someone who is drunk.
• The marriage was fraudulent because either spouse failed to disclose details such as a criminal history, the presence of sexually transmitted diseases or impotence.
After you’ve confirmed that you meet the criteria for annulment, you’ll need to complete the forms requesting the official annulment of your marriage. These free annulment forms are available from the family court in your area, though you may still want an attorney to help you draw up a plan detailing how you’ll divide your property, handle custody of your children and whether either spouse will receive alimony. (If you can’t come to an agreement on property and children, you’ll have to hash out those issues in front of a judge.) Once you’ve completed the forms and the plan detailing the terms of your annulment, you’ll submit them–along with the necessary fees–to the local family court. After you’ve filed the forms and the terms of your annulment, you’ll then have to attend a hearing before a judge who will review the information. If the judge rejects it, you’ll have to make changes as outlined by the judge and get judicial approvals at a new hearing. Assuming the judge agrees with your file, your marriage will be annulled.
How Is Annulment Different To Divorce?
Divorce is a legal way of ending a marriage when it has broken down irretrievably. An annulment is a legal way of ending the marriage that was void or voidable). The key difference between a marriage annulment and divorce is that divorce dissolves a valid marriage, while annulment declares a marriage null and void (which means that it does not satisfy the requirements of a valid and legal marriage). Some key factors include:
• Conditions for annulment are more restrictive. If you do not fit the narrow grounds for obtaining an annulment, your only option will be divorce.
• Annulment means you won’t be considered divorced. This is important to some people if they don’t want a subsequent relationship to be a second marriage. However, it is important to recognize the difference between an annulment by the courts and annulments by a religious institution. The decision of your priest, pastor, rabbi or other religious leader to annul a marriage has no impact on whether a judge will annul the marriage and vice versa.
• Annulment doesn’t have a concurrent process for resolving child custody or property settlement agreements. The divorce process makes it possible for you to negotiate these issues with your spouse or have the court make decisions on these matters if you cannot agree. When annulling a marriage, the court declares your marriage void but does not help you with the practical process of ending your shared life. If you annul your marriage, property has to be divided up within 12 months of the date of the annulment. If you cannot come to an agreement on the issues of property division or custody division, you will need to file a separate application with the court to help resolve these issues. Family dispute resolution can sometimes be attempted to help you agree on the issues without involving the courts.
Whether you decide to annul your marriage or whether you want the marriage dissolved through the process of divorce, you are not permitted to remarry until the legal process ends. This means you should not try to get married again until the annulment order becomes final or until the divorce order becomes final.
What Happens When an Annulment is Granted?
Annulled marriages are regarded as though they never existed. Therefore, courts faced with how to divide assets in an annulment situation attempt try to leave the couple in the same financial it was in before the marriage ever happened. This means that if the parties did not have any marital assets, the parties will each be left with whatever money or property they brought to the marriage with them on their own. Sometimes, couples obtain shared property or assets before the annulment. Courts must decide how the property should be divided. Generally, courts divide shared property, and shared debt, on an equitable basis, or equitably. In equitably dividing assets and debt, courts look at the facts and circumstances in each case. Courts attempt to reach an equitable, or fair, resolution. A fair resolution for both parties involves taking each parties’ specific needs (including financial needs) and circumstances into account. Generally, children born to a couple whose marriage is later annulled are considered legitimate. In other words, after the annulment, both parties to the annulled marriage are the legal parents of a child, just as they would be had the marriage ended in divorce.
If, upon annulment, there are child support and child custody issues, courts will generally apply the state’s laws regarding divorced couple child support and custody issues.
Generally, there is no period of time (e.g., three years, ten years) after the marriage by which an annulment must be sought. Practical considerations, however, might make obtaining an annulment earlier, rather than later, a prudent idea. The longer a party or couple waits or decides to request an annulment, the more complicated it becomes for a court to equitably divide assets and work out child custody and support issues. A party who brings an action for annulment later rather than sooner may have a harder time presenting evidence. This is because, among other reasons, memories fade, details are forgotten, and witnesses may die or become unavailable, with the passage of time. Also, many people seek an annulment to escape a social or religious stigma of divorce. Delay or wait in obtaining an annulment is, in effect, a delay in a person’s ability to remarry, whether they wish to do so consistently with their faith or for other reasons unique to the individual.
Utah Annulment Lawyer
When you need help to get an annulment in Utah, please call Ascent Law LLC for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506