People often wonder about annulments in Arizona and if there are benefits to ending their marriage through the annulment process. While an annulment may seem like another type of divorce, the two legal proceedings are quite different and can render very different results for divorcing spouses.
Marriage is a legally binding contract between two people. A divorce dissolves a marital contract allowing the court to divide property acquired during the marriage equitably between the spouses.
In a divorce, the court will also make any orders for child custody, support, and alimony. Once finalized, both parties are declared single and free to remarry.
An annulment declares a marriage null and void, meaning there was no valid marital contract. Once the court grants an annulment, the parties were never legally married.
In an annulment, there is no marital property to divide. Instead, the court tries to return the parties to their financial statuses before the invalid marriage. Although child support still applies to annulment proceedings, alimony or spousal support generally does not.
An Arizona annulment requires the party applying for the annulment (the petitioner) to prove the union is void or voidable. This is in stark contrast to a no-fault divorce which only needs one spouse’s testimony that the marriage is irretrievably broken.
Per Arizona statute, a marriage can be dissolved or declared void if the marriage was not legally valid when it took place. Such grounds for annulment include:
If the petitioner cannot prove grounds for an annulment, the marriage must be ended through a divorce.
While spouses are not required to be married for any specific amount of time before petitioning for a divorce or an annulment in Arizona, it is prudent to act quickly if you are seeking an annulment. Staying in your invalid marriage once you discover it is voidable could give the court reason to declare your marriage valid.
The same is not true of marriages that are prohibited by state law. Such marriages are always voidable.
If you are unsure of your marriage’s legal footing and would like to discuss whether an annulment or divorce is right for you, contact the professionals at Wilson-Goodman, PLLC. Our divorce attorneys handle all areas of marital law and can assist you in making a practical plan for your children, property, and other dissolution needs.
At Wilson-Goodman, PLLC, our Chandler divorce attorneys will guide you through the annulment or divorce process and ensure you understand how Arizona’s family and divorce laws apply to you. Schedule your confidential consultation today.