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Colorado Family Law Blog

Annulment vs. Divorce

Annulment and divorce are similar in that they both end marriage, but most couples are not eligible for an annulment. An annulment is a decree that a marriage was never valid. Some couples prefer this because they are legally able to erase what they believe was a mistake from their lives. Furthermore, annulment removes any obligation either spouse has to support the other after the end of marriage. If they never had a legal marriage, there’s no reason either is entitled to anything that belongs to the other.

Despite the rarity of annulment, there are instances in which it is an option. Colorado law permits annulment under the following circumstances:

• Spouses were never qualified to be married because they were close biological relatives or for another reason that should have been acknowledged prior to marriage.
• Either spouse lacked the mental capacity to enter into marriage, either due to permanent or temporary disability, such as intoxication.
• Either spouse was threatened into the marriage or forced to marry under duress.
• Spouses chose to marry based on a dare or joke.
• Either spouse was below the legal age of consent (18 or 16 with parental consent).
• Either spouse was already married to another living person when the current marriage occurred.
• Either spouse lacked the physical capacity to consummate the marriage.
• Either spouse married because of the other’s fraudulent act or misrepresentation.

A common misconception about annulment is that access to it is based on the length of the marriage. This is not the case. Duration of a marriage is never a factor and annulments are permitted at any point in a marriage when any of the above factors is discovered. However, once a couple has children, it can make it more difficult for them to receive an annulment.

In instances where one spouse is accusing the other of fraud, the accusing spouse may be expected to cease marital relations as soon as he or she is aware of the circumstances. Otherwise, the courts might assume the accusing spouse condoned the actions at the time, but is now using his or her knowledge to avoid the consequences of divorce.

If you believe you are dealing with any of the above circumstances that might make an annulment your best option or you want to end your marriage and you have questions about divorce or annulment, contact Colorado divorce lawyer Michele Cline to schedule a consultation.


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