How Long Do You Have to Annul a Marriage in Arizona?
Arizona has no time limit when it comes to the annulment of a marriage. An annulment can be pursued at any point in the marriage, no matter its duration. However, the longer a marriage lasts, the harder it becomes to make certain claims that give rise to an annulment. Other claims, however, can survive a decade of marriage, even if the spouses cannot.
An annulment voids the marriage from its inception. Divorce ends the marriage. Divorce is like saying, “We were married, and now we are not.” Annulment is like saying, “We were never married.” If an annulment is granted, it would void the marriage contract. That means that all the rights and entitlements afforded to a spouse would not be available. Annulments are granted only in the rarest of cases. The court will only consider the annulment of a marriage if the spouse who is bringing the claim was harmed or otherwise defrauded and the marriage was a sham.
Voidable versus Prohibited Marriages
A marriage between a man and a wife is voidable (can be annulled). A marriage between a brother and a sister is illegal and never existed. A sister would not have to prove that the marriage was a sham to annul an incestuous marriage. She would only need to establish the blood relationship between herself and her spouse.
On the other hand, a marriage that is permissible, but voidable, requires court approval because of the potential harm it can cause a spouse.
On What Basis Can You Annul a Marriage in Arizona?
Coercion – A spouse can claim that they were coerced into the marriage. As an example, a shotgun wedding. To be considered valid under Arizona law, a marriage requires voluntary consent. Any element of coercion is enough to nullify an Arizona marriage.
Insanity – Through sickness and health does not apply under Arizona law. If your spouse has a serious mental illness, they may not be able to give legal consent to marry, depending on their mental state at the time of the marriage. Alternatively, a failure to divulge a mental illness can provide grounds to annul a marriage. A spouse may also be able to argue intoxication as grounds to nullify a marriage.
Fraud – Fraud occurs when one individual attempts to deprive another of their wealth through false claims or misrepresentation. In some cases, the institution of marriage is used for this purpose. A spouse who can prove their spouse used fraud or had an ulterior motive for the marriage can have the marriage annulled.
Failure to consummate – Under the law, a marriage is allowed to be annulled if one party cannot have sex or consummate the marriage and the other party was unaware of this condition prior to the marriage.
Illegal marriage – Marriages between adults and minors, blood relations, or marriages with multiple partners are prohibited under Arizona law. Mock marriages, or those generally staged for the purpose of immigration, are also illegal.
Miscellaneous – The court may consider any argument in which a spouse claims that the marriage was impeded either by circumstances or the conduct of their spouse.
What Happens After a Marriage is Annulled?
If two spouses divorce, there is a question as to what to do with their marital estate. That means that any property acquired during the marriage is the property of the couple (not the individual spouse). If the marriage is annulled, then the property reverts back to its original owner. In some cases, annulment is pursued for the purpose of avoiding a divorce settlement. In cases where fraud or coercion was present, the effort may be successful, if not beneficial.
Common Myths About Arizona Annulments
Most people think an annulment is the best way to get rid of their Vegas bender wedding. In some cases, it may be. If you can prove you and your bride were so intoxicated that you were unable to make a binding decision, then the court may annul your marriage. However, they may decide that you have to go through divorce proceedings.
In cases where a marriage is annulled and there are children present, child support and custody are handled similarly to divorce proceedings.