Divorce simply dissolves the legal contract between the parties and it is usual to resolve financial issues between a couple at the same time, invoking the powers of the court to vary property rights if they cannot be resolved by agreement. This means that the ownership by a husband or wife of a house, shares or money in a building society or bank can be varied by the court when it decides how the financial claims are to be met. Under Utah law, besides divorce, there is another way to legally end a marriage. It’s called annulment.
Sometime if you want to end your marriage, you need not apply for a divorce. You may qualify for annulment of your marriage. Speak to an experienced Utah annulment attorney to know if you can annul your marriage instead of filing for a divorce.
Generally speaking, an annulment is a court decree of order that declares a marriage to be null and void. The court will pass an order annulling the marriage if it finds that the marriage is invalid. An annulment is different from a divorce. A divorce legally ends a valid marriage. Once a court annuls a marriage, it is as if the marriage never existed. Once the marriage is annulled, the partners are legally single again and can remarry. However just like in a divorce, the annulment court will decide on the issues of alimony and if there are children from the marriage, the court will decide on the issues of child custody and child support. If you are seeking to annul your marriage, consult an experienced Utah attorney.
People often think of annulment as a form of legal separation. Annulment is different from legal separation. A divorce legally dissolves the marriage. A legal separation doesn’t dissolve all marriage ties, but it does declare that the couple no longer live as husband and wife. It also declares that they no longer will be responsible for each other’s debts.
In Utah, you can end your marriage either by divorce or annulment. However not all marriages can be annulled. Speak to an experienced Utah annulment attorney to know if you can end your marriage by annulment. When a marriage is terminated by a divorce, it means that there was a legally valid marriage which existed at one time but has subsequently been dissolved by an order of the divorce court. When a marriage is annulled, it means that the marriage never legally existed. Under Utah law, marriages invalid from the very beginning can be annulled.
Grounds for Annulment
Not all marriages qualify for termination by annulment. There must be a valid ground for annulment. Under Utah law, a marriage can be annulled on the following grounds:
• Fraud – One spouse hid some information or lied to the other spouse about something that directly affects the marriage relationship between the two.
• Incest – The spouses are related to each other and a relationship between the two would be an incestuous relationship.
• Age – Under Utah law, there is a minimum age for marriage. Both spouses must be at least 18 years old at the time of marriage. However minors aged 16 and above can also legally marry in Utah with parental consent. Minors aged 15 can also legally marry in Utah with parental consent and court permission.
• Bigamy – For a marriage to be legally valid, the spouses must be married to each other and to no one else. If either spouse was legally married to someone else, that marriage must be legally terminated before the parties can marry each other. If the previous marriage of either spouse wasn’t legally terminated, the marriage will not be legally valid.
• Misrepresentation – Misrepresentation occurs when either spouses lies about a fact that is harmful to the other.
• Impotence – Inability of the male partner to have sexual intercourse.
If you are seeking to annul your marriage for fraud in Utah, speak to an experienced Utah annulment attorney. Getting a marriage annulled on the grounds of fraud is a complex process. Courts will only grant annulment in case of an extreme fraud. The fraud must be one that would have prevented the other spouse from entering into that marriage had that spouse know of the fraud. The fraud must have a direct connection with the marriage.
Merely because your spouse was a minor at the time of marriage, it is not a ground for automatic annulment of your marriage. If the spouse had parental consent (and court permission where the spouse is 15 years old). An underage spouse in Utah can apply for annulment of the marriage through his or her legal guardian. However, the court will refuse to annul the marriage on this ground alone if the court feels that its in the best interest of the minor spouse to remain married.
• A marriage can be annulled on the grounds of incest. The following marriages can be annulled on the grounds of incest:
• Marriages where the spouses are related to each other as parent and child
• Marriages where the spouses are ancestors and descendants of every degree
• Marriages where the spouses are siblings or half or whole blood
• Marriages where the spouses are an uncle or aunt and niece and nephew
• Marriages between first cousins. However, if the spouses are over 65 or over 55 but unable to reproduce, the marriage will not be annulled on this ground.
Under Utah law, if the spouses are in any 4th or less degree of consanguinity, the marriage can be annulled.
Filing In Court For An Annulment
The process of applying for annulment begins with the filing of the compliant for annulment. You must meet the residency requirements under Utah law to be eligible for filing a complaint for annulment. Under Utah law, either spouse must have lived in the county for at least ninety days. The compliant for annulment must be filed in the district court of that county. The grounds for annulment must be clearly set out in the compliant for annulment. Don’t just use a fill in the blanks compliant for annulment form that you can download from the web. Consult an experienced Utah annulment attorney for filing a complaint for annulment. Besides the legal grounds for annulment, the complaint for annulment must also list the issues on which you want the court to pass order such as alimony, child custody, visitation rights and child support.
Once your complaint for annulment is filed in the proper court, the compliant must be served on your spouse. The court will then schedule a hearing. During the hearing the judge will go through the evidence that you have filed in support of your compliant for annulment and then pass an order. Annulment under Utah law is not automatic. You must prove the grounds on which you are seeking annulment of your marriage.
Effects of Annulment
If the complaint for annulment is allowed, the judge will pass an order annulling the marriage. Once the order is passed, it is as if the marriage never existed for all legal purposes. The spouses are single once again. However, the children from an annulled marriage will be considered the legal and legitimate children of the spouses from the annulled marriage. The court will also pass orders on alimony, child custody, visitation and child support. Annulment of a marriage does not free the spouses from their responsibilities towards the children from the marriage.
Once a marriage is annulled for all legal purposes, it will be as if the marriage never existed. However, this does not relieve the spouses from the responsibility of alimony. If one of the spouses seeks alimony, the court will determine the amount of alimony and pass orders for payment of alimony. The alimony order passed in an annulment proceeding will have the same effects as one passed in a divorce proceeding. The law does not discriminate between alimony passed in an annulment proceeding from one passed in a divorce proceeding. In the eyes of law, an alimony order is an alimony order and it does not matter whether it is passed in an annulment proceeding or a divorce proceeding. Failure to pay the alimony can result in serious consequences.
Alimony or “maintenance” is a payment made by one former spouse to the other to reduce the latter’s financial hardships after a divorce. Women who have never worked outside the home during a lengthy marriage often are awarded monthly or annual alimony after divorcing. The recipient of the alimony doesn’t need to have legal custody of minor children to receive it, as payments are separate and distinct from child support. Nothing prevents a court from awarding both child support and alimony. Annulment of a marriage does not deprive the spouses of their rights to child custody, child support, visitation and alimony.
Parents have a legal responsibility to provide support for their children from the marriage. After annulment, for all purposes, its like the marriage never really existed but that does not free the spouses from their legal obligations towards the children from the marriage. If the court has ordered payment of child support, the parent ordered to pay the support must make the payments. Failure to do so can result in wage garnishment and other collection activities.
Child support is an amount of money that the noncustodial parent is required to pay to fulfill his or her legal support obligations. Usually these payments are made to the custodial parent, although they may be made through the divorce court. Child support must cover food, clothing, shelter, medical expenses, and education.
Usually the court will decide on the amount of child support. The actual amount depends on how much each parent earns, the number of children in the family, its standard of living, and any child’s unique physical, educational, and psychological needs. Utah has “child support guidelines” that set the appropriate amount. Parents can agree on a figure, but if they do, it must be court approved.
A non custodial parent in Utah is not relieved of his or her child support obligations in the event of an annulment of marriage if the court refuses to grant visitation rights. Child support must be paid by the noncustodial parent regardless of whether visitation rights are granted.
If you are seeking child custody or child support from an annulled marriage, seek the assistance of an experienced Utah divorce attorney.
Deciding on annulment or divorce
Not all marriages qualify for an annulment under Utah law. If your marriage does not qualify for annulment under Utah law, speak to an experienced Utah divorce attorney. The attorney can review your circumstances and advise you of your options. Generally you will be eligible to file for a divorce. Under Utah law, you can file for a divorce on “no fault” grounds – irreconcilable difference between the spouses. An Utah divorce attorney can advise you on the grounds for divorce. Besides the “no fault” ground, you can also seek a divorce in Utah on various grounds. Under Utah law, the following are valid grounds for seeking a divorce:
• Impotency – the wife was at the time of the marriage unaware that the husband was impotent
• Desertion for more than a year
• Common necessities of life not provided by one spouse to the other
• Habitual drunkard
• Felony conviction
• Cruel treatment resulting in bodily injury or mental distress
• Living separately under a separate maintenance decree for more than three years
• Insanity – Permanent insanity is a valid ground for seeking divorce. Medical evidence is required to prove permanent insanity.
It’s not easy to decide whether divorce or annulment is the best way to end your marriage. Both have their pros and cons. However, annulment is generally quicker of the two. Often people opt for annulment thinking its quicker. But the choice of the spouses alone doesn’t matter. Utah has set down the grounds on which a person can seek to have his or her marriage annulled. The grounds must be proved in the court with evidence. Consult with an experienced Utah divorce attorney to know if you can annul your marriage.
Utah Annulment Lawyer Free Consultation
When you need 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