An annulment legally renders a marriage non-existent. Couples often mistakenly assume that they qualify for an annulment if their marriage was short. Unfortunately, length of marriage has nothing to do with whether or not an annulment is possible. The issue is the validity of the marriage.
How can you determine if annulment is an option for ending your Colorado marriage?
First, it is important to understand why someone would pursue annulment over divorce. Annulment is not necessarily “easier” and might not be any faster or less expensive than a divorce. The distinction between annulment and divorce is that the former makes it so the marriage legally never occurred, which might be preferred for religious reasons or to reinstate financial benefits that were lost due to marriage. Qualifying for an annulment can be a challenge, so unless you have a specific reason for wanting to have your marriage annulled, you might fare better with pursuing the more common avenue of divorce.
What are the legal grounds for annulment in Colorado?
In order to qualify for an annulment in Colorado, you must prove more than just a broken marriage. Your divorce attorney can help you determine if any of the following situations apply to your case. According to C.R.S. § 14-10-111(1), to qualify for an annulment you must prove that:
a. A spouse lacked the mental capacity to consent at the time of the marriage (mental incapacity, drugs, or alcohol); or
b. A spouse lacked the physical capacity to consummate the marriage (was unable to have intercourse) and the other did not know this at the time of marriage; or
c. A spouse was under the age to consent to marriage (18 or 16 with guardian consent); or
d. One spouse married in reliance on the other's fraudulent act or misrepresentation which went "to the essence of the marriage;” or
e. One or both spouses married under duress; or
f. One or both spouses married as a jest or dare; or
g. The marriage was void due to bigamy/polygamy, incest (ancestor & descendant, siblings, uncle/niece, or aunt/nephew), or any other reason under the laws of the place where the marriage was entered into.
Examples of fraud that might result in the ability to have a marriage annulled include claims of illness by one spouse that resulted in a marriage that would have otherwise not occurred, or marrying to establish residency in the United States.
Dependent upon when you learn of the conditions listed above, you have between 6 months and 2 years to bring an invalidity of marriage action in court. The deadline for filing will depend upon the basis of your claim.
If you believe one of the grounds for annulment listed above applies to your case or you have questions about annulment or divorce in Colorado, contact Montgomery Little & Soran, P.C. at (303) 773 8100.