Annulment Is Not a Quickie Divorce For a Short Marriage

On March 11, 2024

The first thing you need to know about annulment is that it is not another way of getting divorced. In simple terms, a divorce is the process of ending a valid marriage—whether it lasted for 20 years, 20 months, or 20 days. Sometimes, however, marriages never existed in the first place.

Simply put, adults may enter into a marriage that is invalid in the eyes of the law. In Colorado, the legal process of declaring such a marriage void involves seeking a “declaration of invalidity,” otherwise known as an annulment. Your Colorado Springs divorce attorney will help you understand the distinction between annulment and divorce in plain English.

What Are the Differences Between Divorce and Annulment?

Many people believe that the difference between divorce and annulment in Colorado is simply a matter of time. The most common misunderstanding is if one spouse wakes up the morning after the wedding and asks themselves, “What have I done,” they assume thecan run to the nearest courthouse and file for an annulment. This is not true in the state of Colorado.

While there are, in fact, time limits on when you can seek an annulment, an El Paso County judge will not grant such a request simply because of so-called buyer’s remorse or a short marriage. There are several reasons a judge would grant an annulment; however, cold feet and instant regret are not among them.

That being said, the questions become: When is an annulment appropriate and available in Colorado, and does a couple seeking to end their marriage need to seek a divorce instead? The divorce lawyers at Perkins Law in Colorado Springs can explain these terms in easy-to-understand language to help you better understand your situation.

Related: Three Tips for Choosing the Best Divorce Lawyer in Colorado Springs

Annulment in Colorado Is Only Appropriate For Very Specific Reasons

Unlike divorce, which a Colorado court can and will grant under almost every circumstance, there are minimal and specific bases for seeking an annulment in Colorado.

In accordance with C.R.S § 14-10-111, a Colorado judge is authorized to grant an annulment if the party or parties seeking the annulment can substantiate the existence of one of the following circumstances:

  • A party was unable to consent to the marriage at the time it was solemnized, either due to mental incapacity or infirmity or under the influence of alcohol or other disabling substances.
  • A party was unable to consummate the marriage through intercourse, and the other party was unaware of this incapacity at the time of solemnization.
  • A party was below the legally stipulated age and did not have the consent of their parents, guardian, or judicial approval as provided by law.
  • One party entered the marriage based on a fraudulent act or representation by the other party, which goes to the core of the marriage.
  • One or both parties entered into wedlock under compulsion exerted by the other party or a third party, regardless of their awareness of the coercion.
  • One or both parties entered the marriage as part of a joke or dare.

When considering an annulment, a judge may also assess the legality of the marriage. The marriage may be prohibited by Colorado law for the following reasons:

  • The union occurs before the dissolution of a prior marriage of one of the parties.
  • The marriage involves an ancestor and a descendant or between a brother and a sister, irrespective of whether the relationship is by half or full blood.
  • The individuals are an uncle and a niece or between an aunt and a nephew, regardless of whether the relationship is by half or full blood, except for marriages permitted by the established customs of aboriginal cultures.
  • A marriage that is void as per the law of the jurisdiction where it was contracted.

Related: Separation vs Divorce: Expert Insights From a Colorado Springs Divorce Lawyer

Time Limits For Seeking an Annulment in Colorado

If you did not get married in Colorado, you must live in the state for at least 91 days before you can seek a declaration of invalidity from a judge. More importantly, you must seek a declaration of invalidity within the timelines specified by law.

An annulment must be requested within the following timeframes to initiate the annulment process:

  • Within six months of discovering issues such as lack of consent due to mental capacity or intoxication, fraud, duress, or marriage entered into as a joke or dare.
  • Within one year of discovering the inability to have sexual relations.
  • Within twenty-four months from the date of marriage if one spouse was underage and lacked parental consent. In such a case, the spouse, parent, or guardian of the underage spouse can seek a declaration of invalidity.
  • At any time before the death of a spouse, if the marriage is illegal due to bigamy or consanguinity (blood relationship).

If You Are Seeking An Annulment, Time is of the Essence; Contact Perkins Law Immediately

If you are seeking an annulment or wondering if a divorce is better, contact the Colorado Springs divorce attorneys at Perkins Law today. The dedicated team of lawyers is on hand to provide a free consultation to help explain the legalities of your unique situation and ensure that you are making the right choice.

Reach out to Perkins Law today to schedule your consultation.

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