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What is the Difference Between an Annulment and a Divorce?

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Annulments are difficult to get in Colorado. The requirements are sometimes difficult to meet. As a result, annulments are rare. It is often easier and sometimes even quicker to get a divorce rather than an annulment in Colorado.

What is an Annulment?

An annulment is a procedure which “cancels” the marriage. If the Court grants an annulment it is like the marriage never existed. In Colorado, an annulment is called a “Declaration of Invalidity.”

How is a Divorce Different?

In contrast to an annulment, a divorce, or dissolution of marriage, recognizes a marriage existed and has ended. Whether a couple decides to obtain an annulment or divorce is their decision. Many individuals seek an annulment when religious factors prohibit them from a divorce.

How Do I Get an Annulment?

Generally, you need to prove to the Court that your marriage was not valid from the beginning. For example, a marriage may be declared invalid if:

  • A party lacked the capacity to consent to the marriage at the time the parties got married because of mental incapacity or because of the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • A party is unable to consummate the marriage and the other party did not know of this inability beforehand.
  • There was a fraudulent representation that went to the essence of the marriage.
  • One or both parties entered the marriage under duress.
  • One or both parties entered into the marriage as a jest or dare.
  • A party was under age as provided by law and did not have the consent of their parents or judicial approval.

A marriage will be held "void" or prohibited by law if:

  • One of the parties is already married
  • It is a marriage between relatives
  • It is a marriage, which is prohibited by law in the place where the marriage was contracted

What is the Annulment Process?

If you were married in Colorado, you can file for a Declaration of Invalidity of Marriage in Colorado in the district court in the county where you or the other party lives. If you were married outside of Colorado, one party must have resided in Colorado for 30 days prior to filing a Petition for Declaration of Invalidity of Marriage in Colorado. Both parties can file the Petition for Declaration of Invalidity of Marriage jointly, or if one party files a Petition, they will also need to have the other party served with a Summons and Petition and Case Information Sheet.

There are strict time frames in which you can file for invalidity of marriage. If you do not file within those time frames, the Court will not grant an annulment. If the Court finds your marriage is not valid, you may not need to go through the actual divorce process as if you were married. However, if the Court refuses to grant an annulment, the parties will need to dissolve their marriage.

The Court may also deal with issues concerning finances, property, and children in the annulment process, if appropriate. The process to do so is similar to how the court addresses these issues in a dissolution of marriage. Because of this, an annulment often will take as long as a divorce in Colorado.

Contact The Harris Law Firm for Help With Your Divorce or Annulment

At The Harris Law Firm, we can help you with either form of marriage dissolution. We understand this is a difficult decision and the process to end your relationship can be overwhelming. Allow our Colorado divorce attorneys to help you. We take the time to get to know you personally and will prioritize your needs. Please call us at your convenience to schedule a consultation with one of our lawyers. We are happy to assist you.

Our attorneys at The Harris Law Firm can help you understand your options for ending a marriage in Colorado. Call (303) 622-5502 or contact us online to speak with a lawyer.

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