Understanding the legal intricacies of marriage dissolution, including the process of annulment, can seem daunting. If you’re considering getting an annulment in Colorado, it’s important to understand a few key concepts first.
Can you get an annulment in Colorado?
Annulment is known in Colorado as a Declaration of Invalidity. It’s a legal procedure that effectively erases a marriage, treating it as if it never existed.
Whether you call it an annulment or a Declaration of Invalidity, the practical effect is the same. The marriage is deemed to have never occurred.
Declaration of Invalidity vs. divorce in Colorado
Declaration of Invalidity
In Colorado, both a Declaration of Invalidity and divorce are legal methods to end a marriage, but they differ in their purpose, process, and implications.
A Declaration of Invalidity is a court decree that nullifies a marriage, treating it as if it never occurred. It operates on the premise that it was not a valid marriage from the start. This could have been fraud, duress, or lack of capacity to consent.
Once a declaration of nullity has been made, it's as if the marriage never existed in the eyes of the law.
A Colorado divorce, or dissolution of marriage, acknowledges that the marriage was valid but has irretrievably broken down. As a no-fault state, Colorado does not require individuals to prove fault to receive a divorce. The court will divide marital property and establish child custody orders if the couple cannot agree to a settlement themselves. The court may also award alimony or child support in the divorce proceedings.
Requirements for Declaration of Invalidity in Colorado
To file for a Declaration of Invalidity in Colorado, certain specific conditions must be met. These conditions, also known as grounds for annulment, are distinct from those required for a divorce.
One or both parties may seek a Declaration of Invalidity if:
- The marriage was entered into under duress, fraud, mental incapacity, or while one party was under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- The marriage could not be consummated due to one person’s inability, and the other party had no knowledge of this at the time of marriage.
- One party was not of legal age at the time of marriage and lacked the proper parental permission to wed.
- The marriage is incestuous.
- The marriage is bigamous.
It's important to note that there is a time limit (statute of limitations) for filing a Declaration of Invalidity, and it varies depending on the ground being invoked. This time is usually between six months and two years after the date of the voidable marriage.
The process to obtain a Declaration of Invalidity involves filing a petition with the district court in the county where either spouse lives. The petition must state grounds for the annulment process and provide relevant evidence. The court will review the petition and any supporting documentation before making a decision. In many cases, a judge will require a hearing to hear from both sides.
Requirements for divorce in Colorado
Eligibility for divorce in Colorado is more straightforward. At least one member of the married couple must have been a resident of the state for 90 days prior to filing, and the filing can be done on no-fault grounds by simply stating the marriage is irretrievably broken.
Should you seek a Declaration of Invalidity or a divorce?
Choosing between a Declaration of Invalidity and divorce depends largely on individual circumstances. If you believe your marriage was never legally valid, perhaps due to deception or coercion, seeking a Declaration of Invalidity may be the better route. However, if the marriage has simply become untenable over time, a divorce might be more appropriate.
Examples of situations where people seek divorce
- Lack of commitment: This is one of the most common reasons for divorce. If one or both partners no longer feel committed to the relationship, and attempts at repairing the commitment have failed, it might be time to consider a divorce.
- Abuse: If there's any form of abuse in the relationship, whether physical, emotional, or financial, it's important to prioritize safety and consider divorce. In such cases, a divorce can provide the legal protection needed to prevent further harm.
- Irreconcilable differences: If the couple has significant disagreements or conflicts that cannot be resolved, and these differences are causing constant stress and unhappiness, filing for a divorce may be the best option.
Examples of situations where people seek a Declaration of Invalidity
- Fraud or deception: If one partner entered the marriage based on fraudulent information or deceit by the other, they can seek a Declaration of Invalidity. For instance, this might apply if a partner lied about their financial status or hid significant debts.
- Bigamy: If one spouse was already legally married to someone else at the time of the marriage, the second marriage is not legally valid, and a Declaration of Invalidity can be sought.
- Underage marriage without consent: If one party was a minor at the time of the wedding and lacked proper consent from a parental figure or the court, a declaration of invalidity can be filed.
If you’re thinking about ending your marriage in Colorado, Hello Divorce is here to help. We specialize in online divorce with flat rates and customizable services so you get exactly what you need with the least amount of stress. Click here to view our online divorce plans, or visit this page to schedule a free 15-minute phone call with an account coordinator where you can ask questions and get more information.
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