How Do I Get An Annulment in Arizona?

An annulment is a means to get a legal determination that a marriage was not valid, and the parties in fact were never legally married.  One can apply for an annulment if one of the preconditions necessary for marriage is not present, or, as the law states it:  “when the cause alleged constitutes an impediment rendering the marriage void.”  A.R.S. § 25-301. For example:

  • If one party is already married
  • If the marriage is between parties too close in relation to each other.  Arizona prohibits marriage between parents and children, grandparents and grandchildren, siblings, half-siblings, uncles/aunts and nephews/nieces and first cousins (unless one cousin is sixty-five years old, if one cousin cannot reproduce).
  • If one party is under the age of consent.

  • If one party is unable to enter into a contract (based on, for example, age or incapacitation).  However, the parties can ratify the marriage by remaining married past the age of 18.
  • If the parties are of the same gender.

The Courts have also interpreted the law to allow for annulments in certain cases of fraud or misrepresentation.  The “false representation or concealment” must be “such that the fundamental purpose of the injured party in entering into the marriage is defeated.”  Means v. Industrial Commission, 110 Ariz. 72, 515 P.2d 29 (1983).  Arizona Courts have, for example, granting an annulment when a party learned after marriage that her husband has misrepresented his religious convictions.  State Compensation Fund v. Foughty and Industrial Commission, 13 Ariz.App. 381, 476 P.2d 902 (App. 1970).

The procedure for obtaining an annulment is similar to that of obtaining a divorce.  One party has to file a Petition with the Superior Court and serve the other with the appropriate documents.  The jurisdictional requirements (for example: that one party has lived in Arizona for 90 days or more prior to filing the dissolution action) are the same.  The Court will still divide property.  The Court will also establish rights and obligations regarding minor children of the parties.

If an annulment is granted, the parties will be placed in the legal position they would have been in, absent the marriage. If it is not granted, the parties can choose to proceed with a divorce.

Some people choose to file for an annulment for religious reasons, and some do it for financial reasons.  For example, the Court cannot award spousal maintenance in the case of an annulment.  An annulment also impacts property rights, as there would be no community property, and inheritance rights.

Rather than engaging in a contested action with the Court, parties contemplating annulment can instead address their issues in mediation.  In mediation, the parties can still apply for the orders they would like from the Court.  The mediator can help the parties with all paperwork and procedural requirements.  With mediation, the parties can come to a peaceful and mutually agreeable resolution.  Mediation is less expensive, less stressful and less time consuming than litigation, and, most importantly, it works most of the time.  With an agreement, the parties are much more likely to get the Court orders they desire.

Alona M. Gottfried is a family law mediator and attorney in Arizona.  If you have questions about mediation, she can be reached at: 480-998-1500 or alona@sglawaz.com.  This is a general interest article only and is not intended to be legal advice.  See a legal professional before making legal decisions.

Simmons & Gottfried, PLLC
8160 E. Butherus Dr., Suite #7
Scottsdale, AZ 85260

Comments

  1. Lupita Denholm says

    What do I need to start my annulment?

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Simmons & Gottfried, PLLC
8160 E Butherus Dr, Suite #7 Scottsdale, AZ 85260
Phone: (480) 998-1500