People are often confused about the differences between obtaining a divorce (or dissolution of marriage) and an annulment. It is a common misconception that if a person wants to break a marriage, they can get an annulment solely based on the length of marriage. In Colorado, to receive an annulment there must be one of five situations in your marriage as a basis for the annulment. Keep in mind that the other party may disagree to your point of view about these situations, and there will still have to be a lengthy court proceeding to receive an annulment, much like a divorce.
- One of the parties remains married to a past spouse or the two spouses are related. If either if this situations is proven to be true, the marriage is immediately deemed “void” and the court will act like it never existed.
- The marriage happened under either duress or vast misrepresentation. Duress occurs when someone forces someone else to do something against their will, the classic example being a gun to the head. Misrepresentation would occur if the basis of the marriage was based on a lie, such as the person being a con artist and a completely separate person from the one they claimed to be.
- The marriage was not consummated. This is not the “classic” definition, but rather one party must be shown to be medically incapable of consummation, and the other party must have not known about this disability until after the two became married. If it can be shown that the other party had knowledge the other person was incapable of consummation before the marriage, they are constructively forgiving the defect.
- One of the parties is under the age of 18, and did not receive the blessing from their parents to be wed. If the person was married younger than 18, but has since turned 18, they are now agreeing to be married and annulment is not an option.
- A spouse did not have the mental capacity to consent to being married. This could be as a result of either a mental disability or from the influence of drugs or alcohol (i.e. Britney Spears and Jason Alexander). However, once the parties are no longer under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they now have capacity to marry and if they don’t seek an annulment immediately, they are granting the marriage.
The most important difference between a divorce and an annulment is that in Colorado a divorce legally ends a marriage and a court makes ruling to divvy assets according to equity or fairness, while an annulment acts as if the marriage never existed in the first place. Therefore, assets that were obtained during the marriage would all go back to person that purchased them, and not be split among the spouses as marital property.
If you are seeking a divorce or an annulment, you should seek the advice of an attorney to help discuss the benefits and disadvantages of each. The attorneys at Peter Loyd Weber and Associates have a large amount of experience in representing spouses during divorce proceedings and can help you through the difficult process. Call us for a free consultation today at (720)863-7755.