Annulment In Colorado – How Does It Work?

How Does Annulment In Colorado Work?

Annulment, legally known as a declaration of invalidity of marriage in Colorado, is a legal process that determines a marriage was invalid from the beginning. This process is distinct from divorce in that it treats the marriage as though it never legally existed. Colorado law outlines specific grounds under which a court may grant an annulment, and these criteria must be met for an annulment to be considered.

The annulment process involves legal proceedings similar to those of a divorce, including the filing of a petition and, potentially, a court hearing.

Grounds for Annulment in Colorado

Under Colorado Revised Statutes §14-10-111, a marriage can be annulled for the following reasons:

  1. Lack of Capacity: This includes situations where one or both parties were unable to legally consent to the marriage at the time of the ceremony due to mental incapacity, the influence of drugs or alcohol, or if either party is under the age of consent without proper parental or court permission.
  2. Lack of Consent: If the marriage consent was obtained through fraud, duress, or coercion, the marriage can be annulled. This might include marrying someone under false pretenses or being forced into the marriage.
  3. Impotency: If one party was impotent at the time of the marriage and the other party was unaware of the impotency, it can be grounds for annulment.
  4. Bigamy: A marriage can be annulled if one party was still legally married to another person at the time of the marriage.
  5. Incest: Marriages between close blood relatives, such as siblings or parent and child, are prohibited and can be annulled.
  6. Underage Marriage: If one or both parties were under the legal age of marriage (18 or 16 with parental consent) and did not obtain the necessary approvals, the marriage can be annulled.

Process and Requirements

To seek an annulment in Colorado, one of the parties must file a petition for declaration of invalidity of marriage in the district court. The petitioner must prove at least one of the statutory grounds for annulment exists. The process includes:

  • Filing the Petition: The person seeking the annulment must file a petition in the county where either party resides. The petition should outline the grounds for seeking an annulment and provide as much evidence as possible to support the claim.
  • Serving the Other Party: The other spouse must be formally notified of the annulment proceedings.
  • Hearing: The court may require a hearing where both parties present evidence and testify about the grounds for annulment. Witnesses may also be called to testify.
  • Court’s Decision: After considering the evidence, the court will make a decision. If the court finds that the grounds for annulment are proven, it will issue a decree of invalidity, stating that the marriage was invalid from the start.

Time Limits

Colorado law imposes certain time limits for seeking an annulment, depending on the grounds:

  • For marriages entered into under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or due to duress, the petition must be filed within six months after the marriage.
  • For underage marriages, the petition can be filed by the underage party before reaching the age of consent or shortly thereafter.
  • In cases of fraud, the petition must be filed within six months of discovering the fraud.
  • There are no specific time limits for annulments based on bigamy, impotency, or incest, but it is advisable to file as soon as possible.

Effects of Annulment

An annulment declares a marriage null and void, as if it never occurred. This can have significant legal and financial implications, especially regarding property division, spousal support, and the legitimacy of children born during the marriage. Children from an annulled marriage are considered legitimate, and parental rights and obligations remain intact.

In conclusion, annulment in Colorado is a legal process governed by specific statutory grounds and procedures. It is a complex legal action that effectively erases the marriage, differentiating it from divorce, which acknowledges the marriage’s existence but dissolves it.

Individuals seeking an annulment should consult with a legal professional to understand the implications fully and ensure the proper procedure is followed.

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Mary Daugherty - Colorado Springs Lawyer

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