Annulment vs Divorce in Arizona
Many people ask about the difference between an annulment vs divorce in Arizona. A divorce is the dissolution of the marital status between two legally married spouses. In a divorce case, the Arizona court will enter a judgment rendering each party a single person, will divide the parties’ debts and assets, will enter child custody and support orders and, in some cases, may award alimony. This is the most common way people get a divorce in Arizona.
An annulment in Arizona, however, nullifies the marriage as if the marriage had never taken place. Arizona Revised Stature Section 25-101 holds that certain marriages are prohibited in Arizona. Specifically, that statute provides that a marriage between the following people are void and prohibited under Arizona law:
- 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 if it is shown one of the cousins is unable to bear children and the marriage is approved by a judge of the Superior Court;
There are also reasons that, although not rendering the marriage legally void, may allow the court discretion to render the marriage voidable for purposes of entering an annulment of the marriage. The Arizona Court of Appeals have upheld a trial judge’s decision to declare an otherwise legal marriage voidable and, hence, grant an annulment declaring the marriage void.
Some such examples occurred in the case of Medlin v. Medlin wherein the Arizona Court of Appeals held that a marriage is similar to a contract requiring both parties to have the mental capacity to understand the contract before entering into the contract such that a spouse who was incapable of understanding the nature of the quasi-contractual agreement to marry may have the marriage annulled.
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 sufficient basis to annul the marriage in Arizona.
In yet another Arizona Court of Appeals decision in the case of State Compensation Fund vs. Foughty and Industrial Commission, the court of appeals held that a person with deeply religious convictions who marries a person she believed to share the same religious convictions could have her marriage annulled because their was an absence of a meeting of the minds regarding their religious views and practices.
The Arizona Supreme Court has gone as far to hold in the case of Southern Pacific C). vs. Industrial Commission that an annulment of a void or voidable marriage is permissible even if the same facts would provide a basis for a dissolution of 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 marriage is annulled, pursuant to Arizona Revised Statute Section 25-302.
How Much Does it Cost to Get an Annulment in Arizona
The cost of getting an annulment in Arizona are 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, issues orders concerning the care of the children, and determine the issue of child support. Another difference is that the court can award alimony (i.e., “spousal maintenance”) to a spouse in a divorce, but may not award alimony to a spouse whose marriage is annulled.
The only exception to the idea that the costs of an annulment and a divorce are very 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 basis for an annulment, the party seeking the annulment must prove the marriage was void to begin with or is voidable due too, for example, fraudulent inducement to enter into the marriage.
How Long Do You Have to Be Married to Get an Annulment
There is no specific time limit to be married to obtain an annulment in Arizona. However, you do have to act quickly once you become aware of the basis for the annulment. Failure to seek an annulment after having had knowledge of the basis of the annulment could result in the court finding you ratified the 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 an attorney to pursue a divorce or an annulment, please feel free to contact one of our attorneys at Hildebrand Law, PC. Call us at (480)305-8300.