Marriage is a legally binding commitment between two individuals. Unfortunately, not all marriages are successful, and some must end for various reasons. When a couple wishes to end their marriage, they can opt for either a divorce or an annulment. While divorce is well-known, annulment is still a concept that many do not fully understand.
A marriage annulment legally declares your marriage null and void. Legally, an annulment means that the marriage never existed. This is very different from a divorce, which is the ending of a valid union.
Requirements for Annulment
Because an annulment erases a marriage from your record, it requires more rigid standards than a divorce. You must essentially prove that the marriage was never valid in the first place.
To obtain an annulment in Utah, the marriage must meet at least one of these requirements:
- The marriage was the result of force or threat of force.
- The marriage was a result of fraud, duress, or coercion.
- One of the spouses lacked the mental capacity to enter into marriage.
- One of the spouses was under 18 years of age at the time of the marriage.
- Either spouse was already legally married or in a domestic partnership with another person.
- One spouse was physically incapable of consummating the marriage, and the other spouse was unaware of this fact.
Time Limits for Annulment
In Utah, the statute of limitations for annulment depends on the situation.
- There is no time limit to file for an annulment in cases of an underage spouse or bigamy.
- A fraud-based annulment must be filed within four years of discovering the fraud or six months after the petitioner discovered the fraud in a previous divorce or annulment proceeding.
- Annulment based on duress or mental incapacity must be filed within four years of the marriage date.
Benefits of Annulment
No Division of Property
When a marriage is annulled, there is no division of property or assets, as the marriage is considered to have never existed. This means that each party gets to keep their own property and assets. If joint property does exist, one partner could buy out the other similar to a business breaking up. In cases where one spouse was victimized by the other, a judge could order the offending spouse to give up property as a form of financial compensation.
No Spousal Support
Because the marriage never existed legally, there is no obligation for one spouse to pay spousal support to the other.
For those who have religious objections to divorce, an annulment can provide a way to end the marriage without violating their beliefs. This could also protect them from being shunned by their community.
An annulment provides a clean break from the marriage, without the ongoing legal ties that come with divorce. This can be particularly beneficial for those who wish to remarry in the future.
Legal Standing for Children
Marriage does not affect the legal status of the parent/child relationship. Plenty of children are born with two legal parents who never marry. An annulment should not affect paternity or maternity. As long as you are a legal parent, you can create a parenting plan, child support arrangements, and so on.
Hiring a Lawyer for Annulment
If you are considering an annulment in Utah, you should hire an experienced lawyer who is knowledgeable in both annulment and divorce procedures. They can help you understand your legal options, explain the consequences of each option, and guide you through the complex legal process involved.
Nelson, Taylor & Associates, PLLC can review your case and let you know if you qualify for an annulment in Utah. Even if you do, it may be better to seek a divorce instead. Our team can guide you and help you decide the best path to take. You can set up a free consultation with us online, or call our office now at (801) 901-7046.