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Arizona law allows for the annulment of a marriage in Arizona if certain conditions are met.
An annulment of marriage is done through a Declaratory Judgment voiding a marriage.
Only a judge of the Superior Court has the authority to annul a marriage.
The court still retains the authority to order the division of property and debts accumulated during the marriage, as well as to enter child custody decisions and enter child support orders.
The court cannot, however, award alimony be paid from one spouse to the other spouse if the marriage is annulled by the court.
An annulment of marriage in Arizona, however, nullifies the marriage as if the marriage had never taken place.
Arizona Revised Statute Section 25-101 prohibits some marriages in Arizona.
Specifically, that statute provides that the following marriages are void:
- Marriages between parents and their children;
- Marriages between grandparents and their grandchildren;
- Marriages between brothers and sisters
- Marriages between uncles and nieces
- Marriages between aunts and nephews
- Marriages between first cousins, except if one of the cousins is over the age of 65 one of the cousins is unable to bear children and a Judge from the Superior Court approves the marriage before the marriage occurs;
The Difference Between Divorce and Annulment of Marriage in Arizona
Some people have questions regarding whether to file for an annulment or, instead, file for a divorce in Arizona.
The Arizona Court of Appeals upheld a trial judge’s decision to declare an otherwise legal marriage voidable and, hence, grant an annulment of marriage declaring the marriage void.
The main difference between a divorce and an annulment in Arizona is that a spouse is not entitled to an award of spousal maintenance in an annulment whereas that same spouse may be entitled to spousal maintenance in a divorce. The other difference between a divorce and an annulment is that a marriage is dissolved in divorce whereas the marital relationship is canceled in an annulment.
Annulment of Marriage Because of the Lack of Capacity to Marry
One such example occurred in the case of Medlin v. Medlin. The Arizona Court of Appeals in Medlin held that marriage is similar to a contract requiring both parties to have the mental capacity to understand the contract before entering into the contract.
A person who was incapable of understanding the nature of the quasi-contractual agreement to marry may have the marriage annulled.
Annulment of Marriage for a False Representation of Love and Affection
The Arizona Supreme Court in the case of Jackson v. Industrial Commission held that false representations of love and affection coupled with a fraudulent intent to deprive the other spouse of his or her property provided a basis for an annulment of marriage in Arizona.
Annulment of Marriage for Religious Differences
In yet another Arizona Court of Appeals decision in the case of State Compensation Fund vs. Foughty the court of appeals held a person with deeply held religious convictions who marries a person she believed to share the same religious beliefs could have her marriage annulled because there was an absence of a meeting of the minds regarding their religious views and practices.
The Arizona Supreme Court has gone as far as to hold in the case of Southern Pacific C. vs. Industrial Commission that an annulment of a marriage for a void or voidable marriage is permissible even if the same facts would provide a basis for a dissolution of the marriage.
The trial court still has the power to divide the parties’ assets and debts and to issue child custody and child support orders if the court annuls the marriage, pursuant to Arizona Revised Statute Section 25-302.
Annulment of Marriage for Bigamy
The Arizona Court of Appeals in the unpublished decision in the case of Williamson vs. Williamson held a divorce court has subject matter jurisdiction to annul a marriage when one of the spouses was failed to obtain a divorce in a prior marriage before remarrying.
The Court of Appeals indicated that an Arizona judge annulling a marriage due to bigamy retains the authority to divide property accumulated by the spouses during the bigamous marriage and shall enter orders providing for the care, custody, and financial support of the parties’ children even though the marriage is void.
How Much Does it Cost to Get an Annulment in Arizona
The cost of getting an annulment of marriage in Arizona is not significantly different than getting a divorce in Arizona.
The reason is that in both an annulment and a divorce the court has to divide the parties’ debts, assets, issue orders concerning the care of the children, and order the payment of child support.
A court can award alimony (i.e., “spousal maintenance”) to a spouse in a divorce, but may not award alimony to a spouse if the court annuls the marriage.
The only exception to the idea that the costs of an annulment and a divorce are similar surrounds the additional time it will take your attorney to prove that a basis exists for an annulment.
A divorce can be entered by a judge simply by one spouse testifying the marriage is irretrievably broken.
To establish the foundation for an annulment of a marriage in Arizona, the party seeking the annulment must prove the marriage was void, to begin with, or is voidable due to, for example, fraudulent inducement to enter into the marriage, which must be done in a trial.
You still have to follow all of the various Arizona divorce laws and follow the same Arizona divorce process in your annulment case.
How Long Do You Have to Annul a Marriage in Arizona
There is no specific time limit to be married to obtain an annulment in Arizona.
However, you do have to act promptly once you become aware of the basis for the annulment.
Failure to seek an annulment after having knowledge of the basis of the annulment could result in the court finding you ratified an otherwise voidable marriage by staying in the marriage.
Void marriages, on the other hand, which are prohibited by law are voidable at any time.
If you need information about the annulment of marriage in Arizona, you should seriously consider contacting the attorneys at Hildebrand Law, PC. Our Arizona annulment of marriage attorneys has over 100 years of combined experience successfully representing clients in the annulment of marriage cases in Arizona.
Our family law firm has earned numerous awards such as US News and World Reports Best Arizona Family Law Firm, US News and World Report Best Divorce Attorneys, “Best of the Valley” by Arizona Foothills readers, and “Best Arizona Divorce Law Firms” by North Scottsdale Magazine.
Call us today at (480)305-8300 or reach out to us through our appointment scheduling form to schedule your personalized consultation and turn your Arizona annulment of marriage case around today.
About the Author: Chris Hildebrand has over 26 years of Arizona family law experience and received awards from US News and World Report, Phoenix Magazine, Arizona Foothills Magazine and others. Visit https://www.hildebrandlaw.com.