Marriage annulments are quite rare in Arizona, but that doesn’t mean that the procedure isn’t available to those for whom the required legal grounds exist. Although divorce is a much more common route for marriage dissolutions, annulment could be a viable option for you. Understanding exactly what an annulment of marriage is in the state of Arizona will help you determine your eligibility and how to proceed with the dissolution of your marriage.
Mariage Annulment Defined
The experts at Schill Law Group frequently receive questions about annulment vs. divorce in the state of Arizona. An annulment of marriage derives from the idea that the marriage was invalid from the start. In other words, it means that a legal marriage never actually existed. When an annulment occurs, both parties’ status is returned to single, and they are considered to have never been lawfully married at all. If a marital relationship is eligible for annulment proceedings, it will be classified as either “void” or “voidable.” You may sometimes refer to an annulled marriage as a “nullified” marriage.
Civil vs. Religious Annulment
One of the most confusing aspects of marriage annulment in Arizona has to do with a religious annulment. Many Arizonans confuse the concept of a civil annulment vs. a religious annulment. In a religious annulment, a church tribunal might declare that a marriage is annulled to allow one person to marry another in church. This type of annulment does NOT carry any legal weight. In a civil (or legal) annulment, a petition is filed with the court and a judge makes a determination and issues orders. This, of course, means that specific conditions must be met in order for the annulment to be issued.
Grounds for Annulment of Marriage in Arizona
There are multiple reasons why a marriage might be annulled in the state of Arizona, rather than dissolved through divorce proceedings. Grounds for an annulment include:
- Duress/Lack of Consent – Voluntary consent is required for legal marriage. If a person is forced or compelled to marry under the threat of violence, the marriage is voidable and, therefore, eligible to be annulled by a judge.
- Lack of Mental Capacity – If an individual marries while he or she is insane, mentally ill, or otherwise mentally incapacitated, this person cannot provide legal consent to take part in getting marrying. As such, there could be grounds for annulment.
- Fraud – If either party was intentionally dishonest or misrepresented facts about himself or herself for the intent of tricking the other person into marriage, the marriage may be annulled on the grounds of fraud.
- Intoxication – When one individual was intoxicated, drugged, or otherwise under the influence at the time of the marriage proceedings, the marriage could be annulled due to the inability to legally consent to the marriage contract.
- Impotency – When arguing for an annulment due to impotence, the complaining individual must offer proof that the other party was both permanently and incurably impotent at the time of the marriage, AND that the condition was not known until after the marriage took place.
- Underage Marriage – In the state of Arizona, any child under 18 years of age must have the consent of a parent or guardian in order to legally marry. If the child is under the age of 16, he or she will also need to obtain the approval of a Superior Court judge. If these conditions are not met prior to marriage, the marriage is voidable and may be annulled.
- Incestuous Marriage – Incest is automatic grounds for annulment, as Arizona state law prohibits this type of arrangement. It is thereby void from the start.
- Bigamy – In the event that one party enters into marriage with a new partner before legally dissolving a previous marriage, he or she has committed an act of bigamy and the marriage is void.