Annulments in Arizona

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Annulments look so easy on TV: You’ve been married a short while, realize you’ve made a mistake, get an annulment, and the next day, you’re no longer married.

Annulments don’t work like that in real life. There is so much misinformation surrounding annulments that the best way to explain is to dispel some of these myths:

Myth #1: If you have a marriage of short duration, you can get an annulment.

The truth: Annulments are only available when the marriage itself is
“void of voidable;” i.e., the marriage is defective. That means you have to have a reason for why the marriage was not valid in the first place.

Some common examples of grounds for an annulment are that one of the spouses was already married, one of the spouses was tricked into marrying the other spouse, one of the spouses lacked the mental capacity to marry, the parties did not intend to get married, one of the spouses was too young to marry, the spouses are first cousins under the age of 65, or one of the spouses refused to consummate the marriage.

Legally, the length of the marriage technically doesn’t matter, but realistically, it matters. Judges are more likely to annul a shorter marriage than a longer one. That means the longer you wait to start annulment proceedings, the less likely you are to be granted one.

Validity of marriage: If you have questions about whether you have a valid marriage, you should meet with an attorney. Briefly, here are a few principles regarding the validity of a marriage:

  • A marriage that is valid where it took place is valid in Arizona unless recognizing the marriage violates public policy (e.g., if two first cousins got married in a state where it was legal, Arizona would not recognize that marriage because first cousins marrying is illegal in Arizona, with some exceptions).
  • A marriage that was not valid where it took place may be recognized as valid in Arizona if the marriage would have been valid under Arizona law.
  • If the person marrying the couple lacked the authority to do so, the marriage may still be valid if one party believed the officiant had the authority to perform the marriage.

Myth #2: If you get your marriage annulled, there is no community property to be divided.

The truth: Property acquired by either spouse during a marriage is community proper. The annulment does not change that.

In accordance with A.R.S. § 25-302(B), Court must divide the property in the marital community as part of the annulment.

That’s not such a big deal if you’re annulling a marriage of couple months or even a year, but if you’re annulling a marriage of five years or more, it can be complicated.

Myth #3: You can get an annulment even if you just moved to Arizona.

The truth: An annulment has the same requirements as a divorce: At least one party must live in Arizona for 90 days prior to filing.

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