An annulment is different from a divorce or legal separation in three main ways: grounds to terminating the marriage, effect of meeting those grounds, and property rights.
First, Arizona law states that a court may dissolve a marriage and determine it null and void “when the cause alleged constitutes an impediment rendering the marriage void. But what does the Court mean by “the cause alleged constitutes an impediment rendering the marriage void”? In some instances it means that one spouse made false statements or concealment to the other spouse that were fundamental to that spouse entering into the marriage. It could also mean that one spouse lacked the mental capacity to enter the marriage, the spouses did not have a valid marriage license, refusal to engage in intercourse, underage and without consent, or an undissolved prior marriage. Some might say this is a “tougher” standard to meet than the irreconcilable differences standard in a divorce and legal separation.
Second, an annulment will dissolve the marriage and invalidates it from the date of inception (date of marriage). Therefore, an annulment establishes that the marriage never existed. Whereas a dissolution and legal separation state the marriage was valid but is now terminated.
Lastly, community property laws apply in dissolving or separating a marriage. However, in an annulment, the court divides property based on their interests in the property in accordance with the spouse’s respective contributions and efforts.
Regardless of whether you desire the court to annul your marriage, you have to meet an annulment’s grounds. If you cannot, you can still dissolve the marriage through a divorce or legal separation.
If you have questions about annulment in Arizona, we have answers. Contact our office today at 1-888-929-5292 or 602-258-1000 to speak with our family law attorney. If you'd like to know more about us and what we do, request a free copy of our book, Arizona Family Law – The Essential Arizona Divorce Guide.