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What is an Invalid Marriage?

Posted On March 8, 2021 In Divorce

The State of Arizona considers some marriages valid and others invalid.  An invalid marriage is one the state will not or may not recognize as a legal union.  

How do you know if your marriage is valid or invalid?

A valid marriage typically meets the following criteria: 

  • A marriage license is obtained correctly;
  • There is a legally authorized civil ceremony;
  • The county issues a marriage license; and
  • The couple begins their married life together.

Whereas, an invalid marriage, also known as a void or voidable marriage in Arizona, will generally fall into one of the following categories:

  • Incestuous marriages (marriage of blood relatives);
  • Bigamous marriages (one partner is already in a valid marriage);
  • Marriages where one partner misrepresents their religion to the other partner;
  • Marriages by proxy (one partner had a proxy stand-in for them at the ceremony) ;
  • Marriages with a lack of contractual intent (lack of intent to enter into the marital contract);
  • Marriage to an underage spouse (one partner is a minor and incapable of consenting to marry without parental permission);
  • Marriage to the mentally or physically incapacitated (one partner was unable to understand or unable to fulfill the duties of the marital state in perpetuity);
  • Marriage and a refusal of intercourse at any point after that;
  • Marriage by fraud (one party misled the other into marriage); 
  • Marriage with a secret attempt not to abide by a prenuptial agreement;
  • Marriage by duress or coercion (one party forced the other into marriage); and
  • Any other marital conditions the court finds unacceptable.

To prove a marriage is invalid, one partner must submit evidence proving an above situation.  If the marriage is deemed valid by the court, either partner may file for a divorce.  

Void Marriages Versus Voidable Marriages in Arizona

In Arizona, there are void marriages and voidable marriages.  Void marriages are marriages invalid at conception.  These are marriages such as:

  • Incestuous marriages;
  • Bigamous marriages; and 
  • Those that involve an underage partner without parental consent.  

Arizona courts do not recognize void marriages.

Voidable marriages are those including, but not limited to those conceived in:

  • Fraud;
  • Deception; and
  • Duress.

Arizona courts recognize voidable marriages and will make property and child custody and support rulings regarding the parties.  The court does not make alimony rulings as the marriage was voidable.  

Filing for an Annulment in Arizona

If a partner chooses to file for an annulment in Arizona, they must have the following:

  • The other spouse’s social security number, full name, address (if known), occupation, and time spent in Arizona;
  • The date, city, and state of the marriage; and
  • Information about any shared property or debts.

Arizona also requires residency for at least ninety consecutive days to file for an annulment in the state.  If a partner meets these conditions, they may file a petition for annulment and serve that petition for annulment and summons on the other partner, advising them of the legal action and hearing date.

Before filing any annulment documents, it is wise to speak with an experienced family law attorney.  Obtaining an annulment in Arizona is possible, but you may need help clarifying your reasons for an annulment and assistance collecting the relevant documents and evidence to make your annulment a reality.

Talk to Wilson-Goodman, PLLC, today to find out more about annulments. And void and voidable marriages in Arizona.  Our Chandler divorce attorneys can tell you if you have a voidable marriage or need to seek a divorce instead.  

At Wilson-Goodman, PLLC,  we are dedicated, compassionate, and driven to meet our clients’ expectations.  We look forward to speaking with you and answering your questions at your earliest convenience.