In Arizona, superior courts may declare a marriage to be null and void under certain circumstances. This is referred to as an annulment. The jurisdictional requirements and procedures for obtaining an annulment are the same as if the matter were a divorce case. Of course, proper grounds for an annulment must exist. The easiest way to think of this issue is to remember that courts will only annul a marriage if the marriage wasn’t valid from the beginning. There are two types of categories of marriages that were invalid at the beginning: void marriages and voidable marriages. If it’s a void marriage, it was impossible for it to ever be a legal marriage. If it’s a voidable marriage, it’s up to you whether you want to extinguish the marriage because of some issue that made it invalid at your option.
Some common grounds for annulment in Arizona, in no particular order of priority or occurrence, are:
- You were threatened with violence if you did not marry your spouse;
- You or your spouse were insane on the date of marriage;
- You were tricked into the marriage by fraud. Fraud is often hard to prove, and not all fraud will provide a basis for annulling the marriage;
- You or your spouse were drunk or high at the time of marriage;
- You or your spouse were underage (under 16, or 16-17 without parental consent) at the time of marriage;
- Your marriage is one that is deemed incest under Arizona law;
- You or your spouse were married to someone else at the time of marriage;
- You or your spouse were unable to consummate the marriage.
Getting an annulment can be complicated, so before you plunge ahead, come in for a consultation with Mr. Thomas to make sure you won’t be opening up a can of worms or falling into a trap for the unwary.
As mentioned above, the same court procedures are followed in both annulment and divorce cases. This can be surprising to some people who think getting an annulment is a much faster and easier way to end a marriage. The Arizona judge will still need to follow the general family court procedures, which can take lots of time.
If proper grounds for an annulment exist, the court, assuming it has jurisdiction in general, will then divide the assets and debts and address issues related to any children you may have in common, such as custody, child support, and parenting time.