Choosing to initiate a divorce is a big step and should never be taken lightly. Another option for the dissolution of a marriage is known as annulment. While both processes dissolve the legal bonds of marriage, they do so in very different ways.
What is a Divorce?
A divorce is the most common means of dissolving a marital union, and the only option that will apply to the vast majority of couple. Arizona is a “no-fault” divorce state, meaning the spouse taking the action doesn’t have to prove that the other spouse has broken the marriage. The divorce can happen even if only one spouse desires a divorce.
In 1988 the legislature established another type of marriage, a covenant marriage. The couple comes into a covenant that they will not divorce. This results in higher standards if a spouse within a covenant marriage desires a divorce. Some grounds for fault include but are not limited to:
• Abuse in the marriage
• One spouse has abandoned the marriage and/or the children involved
• A spouse has been convicted of a felony
• Adultery in the marriage
Unless one is in a covenant marriage, where the grounds for divorce are limited, Arizona does allow for divorce without either party admitting to fault in the breakdown of the marriage.
The parties can legally remarry as soon as the divorce judgment is rendered by a superior court, though they must present their divorce decree to prove their eligibility to remarry.
What is an Annulment?
Annulment on the other hand declares that a bona fide marriage never existed in the first place, generally due to some impediment at the time of marriage that would have prevented it from happening on a legal or interpersonal ground. An annulment voids the marriage from the moment it was contracted. Some of the examples of grounds for annulment in Arizona include:
• One or both parties were already married to someone else
• The parties are related by blood to a degree prohibited by law
• One person was a minor and did not get parental consent at the time of the marriage
• Lack of mental capacity to contract a marriage
• Intoxication at the time of marriage
• Lack of intent to enter a marriage contract
• Failure to obtain a marriage license
• Marriage by proxy
• One party used fraud to get the other’s consent to marry
• Marriage under duress (forced marriage)
• The parties have not consummated their marriage, or one party refuses to do so
• Religious misrepresentation
• Concealment of prior marital statuses
• Plans to evade a prenuptial agreement on the part of one or both parties
Is Filing for an Annulment the same as Divorce?
Assuming the couple has no children and is not in a covenant marriage, the process for filing for an annulment in Arizona is much the same as it is for filing for an at-fault divorce. The parties must file the appropriate forms with the superior court, check off one or more grounds for an annulment, and provide sufficient evidence to support their claims.
Once all the appropriate paperwork and fees are filed with the court, a judge will decide as to whether a valid marriage exists, and if an annulment should be granted.
Before filing for an annulment or a divorce, consult with an attorney here at Simon Law Group so they can help you with making these important decisions. Contact us today for a free consult!