Many people wonder how an annulment differs from a divorce. The terms are interrelated, but there is one major difference between the two. Essentially, a divorce is a legal separation that occurs after a lawful marriage. An annulment arises out of a marriage that was not legally sanctioned from the start. Thus, a marriage that qualifies for an annulment is “voidable” by either party. We’ll take a look at how an annulment occurs in the state of Utah.
Grounds for Annulment
Utah Code Title 30, Chapter 1, Section 17.1 is the statute that addresses when an annulment can be requested. First, a marriage can be annulled due the prohibitions listed in Chapter 1. These reasons include:
- Marriage without a final divorce decree in a previous marriage
- One party was underage
- The marriage occurred between close relatives
Second, there are some common law grounds that will support an annulment. A party may request an annulment due to misrepresentation, fraud or impotence. The filing party will have to produce evidence that justifies one of these grounds.
It can be difficult to annul a marriage on the ground of fraud. In most cases, the fraudulent act must amount to something very significant. The fraud must also relate to the marriage. The court will need to determine whether the moving party would have avoided the marriage if he or she was aware of the true facts.
The Annulment Process
The process begins when one party files a complaint for annulment in the local county court. The complaint will need to list all the parties involved (including children) and the grounds relied upon. It will also need to request the court to address other issues such as child support, custody and alimony.
Once the court receives the complaint it will set a hearing date. At the hearing, both parties are allowed to present evidence and witnesses. If the moving party can support his or her case the court will approve the annulment.
After the Annulment
An annulment differs from a divorce in that it legally declares that the marriage never took place. However, the end result of an annulment is similar to that of a divorce. It still involves dealing with child and spousal support, property division and custody issues. For this reason, it is important to handle an annulment with the same amount of care as when filing for divorce.
Anyone considering an annulment should make sure it is the right option. Whenever you are dealing with divorce/separation issues it is best to contact an experienced attorney. Get in touch with the office of Rex B Bushman to find out whether you should file for a traditional divorce or an annulment. Call (801) 652-9413 to make an appointment today at the Provo law office.