Annulment vs. Divorce in Colorado

Annulment and divorce are two legal pathways Colorado residents may be able to use to end their marriages. They share similar traits, including the involvement of a judge or courtroom. Important differences, including legal requirements and time frames, separate them. 

Here’s what you need to know about annulment vs. divorce in Colorado. 

What’s the difference between an annulment and divorce in Colorado?

While annulment and divorce are both Colorado legal procedures, several important factors separate them, including the following. 

Reasons for the split 

Divorce: In the early 1970s, Colorado became a no-fault state. At that point, people could ask for a divorce without citing why they wanted to end their marriage. 

Annulment: To get an annulment in Colorado, you must explain why the marriage was invalid. Without proof of that invalidity, the judge could refuse to grant your request. 

Court involvement 

Both annulment and divorce involve an Initial Status Conference after paperwork has been filed. You or your legal representative meet with a judge to explain how the case is progressing. 

In either type of case, that might be the only time you go to the courtroom, as long as you agree with your ex on how to split your estate. 

Legal consequences

Divorce: After a divorce, you’re legally severed from your partner and can marry someone new. You’ll mark the box next to “divorced” on tax forms and other legal documents. 

Annulment: In an annulment, your marriage is declared null and void, and you can marry someone new. You’ll mark the box next to “single” on tax forms and other legal documents, as you were never legally (and legitimately) married. 

Time frame to file 

Divorce: You can file for divorce at any point in your union, whether your wedding happened months or years ago. 

Annulment: You have between six months and two years to file for annulment, depending on the reasons you cite in your court documents. 

Time frame to complete 

Divorce: Colorado requires people to wait at least 91 days between filing divorce paperwork and getting a finalized decree. If you disagree with your partner on core parts of your split, the process could take longer. 

Annulment: Colorado law requires people to participate in an Initial Status Conference within 42 days of filing. No waiting period applies. That means an annulment typically finishes faster than a divorce does. 

Who can file?

Divorce: Either party in the marriage can apply for divorce. The person who completes the initial paperwork is the petitioner, and the other is the respondent. 

Annulment: Either partner can file for an annulment. Others can too, including the parents of an underaged person, the state, or the children of either party. 

Residency requirements 

Divorce: At least one person must live in Colorado for a minimum of 90 days before filing. 

Annulment: If you got married in Colorado, you can start an annulment case immediately. If you didn’t get married in Colorado, one person must live in the state for at least 30 days before the case begins. 

Property divisions 

Rules regarding property division are the same for marriage and divorce, per Colorado law. When you start a case, you can ask the court for orders regarding these issues. They can be resolved at the end of the case, too. 

An annulment has special rules. If one person fraudulently convinced the other to marry, the person who lied will only be given their financial contribution to the marital property and nothing more. 

Spousal support 

Rules regarding spousal support are the same for marriage and divorce, per Colorado law. When you start either case, you can ask the court to issue orders about these issues. They may also be resolved at the end of the case. 

An annulment has special rules. If one person fraudulently convinced the other to get married, the party who lied will not get any type of spousal support. 

Shared children 

Rules regarding child custody and support are the same for marriage and divorce, per Colorado law. When you start either case, you can ask the court to issue orders about these issues. They can be resolved at the end of the case, too. 

What’s the definition of a marriage annulment?

In Colorado, an annulment is called a “Declaration of Invalidity.” The name makes sense. After the declaration, your marriage is considered legally invalid. It’s as though the marriage never happened in the first place.

After a marriage annulment, you can marry someone new. Until that time, you’re legally considered a single person, and you can use that signifier on documents like tax forms and employment applications. It’s as if you were never married in the first place.

Grounds for an annulment in Colorado 

You must give a judge legal reasons (or “grounds”) to annul your marriage in Colorado. Per state law, the following reasons are legally valid: 

Inability to consent to the marriage 

Both people must be mentally capable of agreeing to the wedding. If one person can’t handle this task due to poor mental health, alcohol, drug abuse, or some other issue, an annulment is possible, as long as one person files within six months of the marriage. 

Inability to consummate

People must engage in sexual intercourse to validate the marriage. If one person can’t do so, an annulment is possible as long as paperwork is filed within one year of the wedding. 

Not old enough to get married 

People must be legal adults before they get married. If not, they need the consent of a parent, guardian, or the court. If the person is underage, that person or their guardian must file for an annulment within two years of the wedding. 

Fraud, misrepresentation, or joke 

A legal marriage is completed between two people who are aware of the proceedings and the legal impact. If the wedding happened because of some type of fraud or joke, an annulment is possible. The paperwork must be filed within six months of the marriage’s start date. 


Some marriages begin with force or threat. These incidents are legally considered duress. File within six months of becoming aware of the issue, and you could get an annulment. 

Marriage was prohibited in some way 

If the two people are blood relatives or one person is married to someone else, the marriage is considered illegal. You could file for an annulment for this reason. 

What’s the definition of divorce? 

Per Colorado law, a divorce is called a “Dissolution of Marriage.” When you move through this process, unlike annulment, your wedding was valid and legal. Now, however, you want to end the marriage, and you use the courts to do so. 

At the end of a divorce, you are a legally divorced person. You were once legally married. Now, you’re not. You’ll check the box for “divorced” on all legal forms unless you get married again. 

Grounds for divorce in Colorado 

Colorado’s divorce laws changed in 1972. At that point, people were no longer required to cite specific reasons (or grounds) for divorce. Instead, they must merely affirm that the marriage is broken and can’t be fixed. 

You may have reasons to split with your partner. For example, you may have experienced abuse, infidelity, or emotional separation. Any of these causes may push you from a loving marriage into a divorce. However, you are not required to tell the courts any of these reasons. You can keep all of your trauma private, simply telling the court that you want a divorce.

Annulment vs. divorce: Which is right for you?

Both annulment and divorce will end a marriage in Colorado. Both have benefits and drawbacks. Choosing the right one is important. 

Here are some of the pros and cons of annulment and divorce in Colorado:

The pros and cons of an annulment in Colorado 

At the end of a Colorado annulment, your marriage is declared invalid, as though it never happened in the first place. 

Benefits of annulment include the following:

  • You’re legally considered single, not divorced.
  • Some religious traditions don’t allow for divorce, but annulment is okay.
  • Annulment doesn’t require a waiting period in Colorado. 
  • Other people, including children, can file paperwork that starts the annulment process. 

Drawbacks associated with an annulment include the following:

  • Time frames can keep you from filing for an annulment when you want it. If you don’t file by the stated deadline, you aren’t eligible for annulment.
  • You must cite legal grounds for an annulment. If you can’t prove your statements, the judge could deny your request for annulment. Sometimes, it can be tough to gather that evidence.
  • If one party lied, that person could get less in the annulment. 

The pros and cons of divorce in Colorado 

At the end of a divorce, your legal marriage has come to a close. You were once married, but after this process, you’re legally divorced. 

Benefits of divorce include the following:

  • You’re not required to prove legal grounds to end your marriage. It’s often a more straightforward process than annulment because of this.
  • You can file for this type of split at any point during your union. There isn’t a time limit.
  • Only you and your spouse can file for this type of split. 

Drawbacks of divorce include the following:

  • Enduring the required waiting period can be difficult. 
  • You may need to wait to meet residency requirements. 
  • Some religious traditions frown on divorce. 


A Brief History of Colorado’s No-Fault Divorce. (June 2023). Law Week Colorado. 
Asking the Courts to Consider an Annulment in Colorado. (January 2023). Colorado Legal Services. 
Divorce FAQs. Colorado Judicial Branch. 
Annulment. Colorado Judicial Branch. 
Divorce in Colorado (Called “Dissolution of Marriage.”). (January 2023). Colorado Legal Services. 
Divorce. Colorado Judicial Branch. 
Divorce: Detailed Instructions. Colorado Judicial Branch.
Senior Editor
Communication, Relationships, Divorce Insights
Melissa Schmitz is Senior Editor at Hello Divorce, and her greatest delight is to help make others’ lives easier – especially when they’re in the middle of a stressful life transition like divorce. After 15 years as a full-time school music teacher, she traded in her piano for a laptop and has been happily writing and editing content for the last decade. She earned her Bachelor of Psychology degree from Alma College and her teaching certificate from Michigan State University. She still plays and sings for fun at farmer’s markets, retirement homes, and the occasional bar with her local Michigan band.