What is an Annulment? How is it Different from Divorce?

There is a lot of misinformation out there about what an annulment is and how it effects matrimony. We have all seen movies where two people get married in Vegas on night and wake up the next morning surprised to find rings on their fingers but what other situations are acceptable for annulment? Check out this article on the basics of annulment in Arizona.

Annulment is a frequently misunderstood legal concept, because popular culture and religion have presented differing and often inaccurate views of what an annulment is in terms of family law.

This article focuses only on “civil annulments,” not “religious annulments,” which can only be granted by a church or clergy member and have no legal effect on your marital status.

Annulments and divorces are similar in the sense that they make a determination about marital status. But the vital difference between them is that divorce ends an existing, valid marriage, whereas annulment simply declares that what everyone thought was a marriage was never actually a marriage at all. In the eyes of the law, an annulled marriage never really existed.

There are a number of possible situations when you can ask an Arizona court to annul your marriage:

  • One of the parties was married to someone else (bigamy).
  • The parties are related by blood.
  • One of the parties was a minor at the time of the marriage, and did not obtain the consent of a parent or guardian.
  • One or both of the parties lacked the mental capacity to get married.
  • One of both of the parties lacked the physical capacity to get married.
  • One or both of the parties were intoxicated at the time they married.
  • One or both of the parties lacked the intent to enter into a marriage contract.
  • The parties failed to obtain a proper, official marriage license.
  • The parties used a proxy (substitute) instead of marrying each other in person.
  • One of the parties perpetrated a fraud to get the other party to consent to the marriage.
  • One party used force (legally known as “duress”) to get the other party to agree to marriage.
  • The parties have not had sexual relations or one party refused to have intercourse.
  • One of the parties misrepresented his or her religion.
  • One of the parties concealed his or her prior marital status.
  • One of the parties secretly planned to evade a premarital agreement.
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