Arizona Annulment and Divorce Attorney
While there are similarities between divorce and annulment proceedings in Arizona, there is a significant difference. The dissolution of a legally valid marriage can only be attained through a divorce, while a marriage that was not valid from the beginning can be annulled.
If you have questions about divorce or annulment, Cohen Family Law can help. While annulment is not an option for most couples, we will take the time to explain the process and take the appropriate legal action to end your marriage. Contact our Phoenix office today for a consultation.
What Is An Annulment?
People often think of annulment in terms of a religious annulment in which a church declares a marriage annulled, but there is a civil annulment procedure under Arizona law. Although annulment of marriage is rare, the procedure is available if there are legal grounds.
Marital relationships that are either “void” or “voidable” are subject to annulment proceedings. A void marriage is one that is null and void at the outset, such as a prohibited marriage (e.g. marriage between a brother and sister). In a voidable marriage, one of the parties has a right to annul the marriage but has yet to exercise that right. Grounds for annulment in Arizona include:
Duress or Lack of Consent
A valid marriage requires voluntary consent. If someone is forced to marry under threat of serious physical harm or domestic violence, the marriage is voidable and may be annulled.
Insanity, Mental Illness, Lack of Mental Capacity
To be valid, marriage also requires contractual intent. A person who is insane, mentally ill, or substantially mentally challenged may lack the mental capacity to give legal consent to marrying and entering into a marriage contract.
A fraudulent marriage occurs when one of the parties is untruthful or misrepresents facts or information to induce the other party into marriage. Fraudulent marriages are often connected to immigration crimes when a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident enters into a marriage with an immigrant for the purpose of evading immigration laws.
If someone was intoxicated or under the influence of drugs at the time the marriage took place and that individual was unable to understand the consequences of entering into the marriage contract, then the marriage may be annulled.
Impotency, Inability to Consummate the Marriage
Annulment on the grounds of impotency requires the complaining party to prove that (1) the other party was permanently and incurably impotent when the marriage took place and (2) the condition was not discovered until after the marriage.
Lack of Parental Consent to Underage Marriage
Under Arizona law, there is an age requirement to enter into a marital contract. A child under the age of 18 (but older than 16) must have the consent of his or her parent or guardian to legally marry unless that person has received emancipation under Arizona law or the laws of another state.
Incestuous Marriage Annulment
Marriage between parents and children, grandparents and grandchildren of every degree, brothers and sisters of the one-half and whole blood, uncles and nieces, aunts and nephews, and first cousins (with one exception for those age 65 or older), is prohibited and void under Arizona law.