Criteria and processes for marriage annulment Dustin Gibb May 1, 2024

Criteria and processes for marriage annulment

Criteria and processes for marriage annulment

Marriage is a significant commitment, but sometimes situations arise where it may not be the intended path. In such cases, understanding the difference between annulment and divorce is key. If you’re wondering whether your marriage qualifies for an annulment, this article is to empower you with the knowledge to make informed decisions about dissolving your marriage.

Annulment vs. Divorce

A divorce acknowledges a valid marriage that has broken down over time. In Utah, if your marriage has simply run its course, then a divorce is likely the more appropriate path. The divorce process focuses on dividing marital assets and debts, and determining child custody and support arrangements (referred to as parent time in Utah) if applicable. Utah adheres to equitable distribution when dividing marital property during a divorce. This means assets and debts are divided fairly, which usually means 50/50. However, some factors can result in an unequal (equitable/fair) distribution of assets and debts: length of the marriage; the earning capacity of each spouse; and contributions made to the marital estate. 

An annulment, on the other hand, is for situations where the marriage was never truly valid from the beginning. Utah law recognizes grounds for annulment such as underage marriage, bigamy (one spouse already married), fraud (e.g., hiding a critical fact like additions or abusive behaviors), lack of consent due to force or intoxication, or undisclosed physical incapacity. There are other unique situations that may qualify you for an annulment rather than a divorce. If your situation falls under one of these categories, then an annulment may be the right option for you. An annulment essentially says the marriage never existed. You can contact us to determine if your situation qualifies for annulment.

Here at Gibb Law, we understand the complexities of both divorce and annulment, and we can guide you toward the most appropriate course of action for your situation.

Criteria for Annulment

Not all marriages qualify for annulment. Unlike a divorce, an annulment challenges the marriage’s validity from the start. Here are some common grounds for seeking an annulment:

  • Fraudulent Marriages: If one spouse entered the marriage based on a lie or misrepresentation about a critical fact, such as fertility, financial status, or criminal history, this may be grounds for annulment. For example, imagine a situation where a spouse hides mountainous debts, addiction, or a severe medical condition that prevents them from having children.
  • Lack of Consent: A marriage cannot be valid if consent is obtained through force, coercion, or threats. This also applies to marriages where one spouse was intoxicated or mentally incapacitated at the time of the ceremony.
  • Underage Spouses: Marriages involving underage individuals (typically below 18) are often considered void marriages, meaning they can be annulled at the request of the underage spouse or their legal guardian.
  • Bigamy: If either party was already legally married to someone else at the time of your marriage, this renders your marriage void.
  • Undisclosed Incapacity: If one spouse cannot consummate the marriage due to a pre-existing, undisclosed physical or mental condition, this may be grounds for annulment.

The Annulment Process

The annulment process generally involves the following steps:

  1. Contacting an Attorney: An experienced family law attorney can advise you on the specifics of your situation and determine if an annulment is the right path for you. They can also ensure you meet any Utah-specific filing deadlines.
  2. Filing a Petition: Your attorney will help you file a petition with the court, outlining the grounds for annulment and requesting the marriage be declared null and void.
  3. Serving Your Spouse: Your spouse will be served with the petition and have the opportunity to respond.
  4. Gathering Evidence: You will need to provide evidence to support your claims for annulment. This may include witness testimonies, documentation, or medical records.
  5. Court Hearing: In some instances, the Court will award an annulment without the need for a hearing. If a hearing is necessary, a judge will review the evidence and arguments from both parties before deciding whether to grant the annulment.

Taking the Next Step

If you believe your marriage may qualify for an annulment, contacting GIBB Law, your qualified family lawyer, is crucial. We can guide you through the legal process, answer your questions, and advocate for your best interests. Schedule a consultation today. Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. The specific laws and procedures regarding marriage annulment can vary by state. Please contact us to discuss the specifics of your situation.