Choosing Annulment vs. Divorce in Arizona

Is it better to get an annulment or a divorce?

Clients who want to dissolve a marriage often inquire about annulment as an option. This is often for religious reasons, such as when a person’s faith discourages or does not allow divorce. However, annulment is also appropriate for a spouse who feels they were deceived, defrauded or coerced into marrying. Not everyone qualifies for an annulment, and those who do may still need to settle issues in court. Clark & Schloss Family Law, P.C. is ready to assist if you have questions about annulment vs. divorce in Arizona. We can explain in detail how the law applies in your situation and whether seeking annulment is a preferable route.

The difference between annulment and divorce

There are fundamental differences between annulment and divorce:

  • What is an annulment? — An annulment is a declaration that the marriage of two people was invalid because of a legal defect that existed at the time.
  • What is a divorce? — A divorce is a court ruling that a legally valid marriage is dissolved and that the parties are no longer spouses.

Parties to an annulment have different rights from those parties to a divorce. They cannot request alimony but they are entitled to a division of property under Arizona’s community property law. Child custody and support issues are decided the same way as in a divorce.

Grounds for annulment vs. divorce in Arizona

Unlike in divorces, which are granted without regard to fault, spouses seeking annulment must show grounds. Marriages can be annulled due to various flaws that make them either void or voidable.

Void marriages are those that can never be legal. They include:

  • Incestuous unions
  • Underage marriage
  • Bigamous marriages
  • Marriages where one party lacked the mental capacity to assent
  • Marriages that failed to comply with legal requirements, such as getting a wedding license and having witnesses at the ceremony

Void marriages are invalid by law and can be annulled without additional evidence.

Voidable marriages include those that involved any of the following:

  • False declarations of affection meant to defraud
  • Sincerely held religious differences unknown at the time of the marriage
  • Duress or coercion
  • Refusal to engage in sexual intercourse
  • Intoxication or temporary insanity at the time of the marriage

Annulments of voidable marriages require proof of these grounds. An Arizona divorce law firm can help you assemble the evidence you need.

How long after marriage can you get an annulment?

A void marriage can be annulled at any time. In the case of a voidable marriage, the party seeking the annulment should act as soon as he or she becomes aware of the grounds, since continuing with the marriage can be viewed as acquiescence. For example, if a party got married while intoxicated but fails to seek annulment for months afterward, a court could rule that he or she ratified the marriage.

Can you get an annulment without your spouse?

As in a divorce, an annulment petition must be filed with the court in the county where at least one of the spouses resides. The petitioner must arrange for service of a copy of the petition and court summons on the other spouse, who then has the opportunity to file a response. If the annulment is opposed, the court holds a hearing to decide whether to nullify the marriage.

Timing of annulment vs. divorce in Arizona

An annulment involves fewer legal issues than a divorce, so it is generally quicker. There is no 60-day waiting period after an annulment petition is filed.

Contact a knowledgeable Scottsdale divorce attorney for a consultation

Clark & Schloss Family Law, P.C. provides reliable representation for spouses seeking annulments in Arizona. Call 602-789-3497 or contact us online to schedule a consultation. Our office is conveniently located on Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard in Scottsdale.