Annulment is not the same as divorce or separation. It is a plea for the courts to rule the marriage invalid rather than dissolving it – striking the marriage from the record as if it never happened. Some people choose to file for an annulment in Colorado instead of divorce for a simpler legal process and to avoid the negative stigma. Others do it for religious purposes. Annulment is only possible in Colorado if your marriage was never legal or valid in the first place.
Colorado Statutory Law on Annulment
Although Colorado does not have a statute specifically on annulment, it has a few that describe what it takes to invalidate a marriage. The most important, Colorado Revised Statute 14-10-111, defines what makes a marriage invalid in the State of Colorado. This statutory law on the declaration of invalidity states that a court in Colorado will find a marriage invalid if entered into under specific circumstances. It then lists seven different circumstances in which the state will not recognize a marriage as valid. Two additional laws – Section 14-10-110 and 18-6-301 – may also be important during an annulment case for defining a prohibited marriage and incest.
What Is Required to Get an Annulment in Colorado?
If you wish to get an annulment in Colorado, you will seek what is called a declaration of invalidity. This will effectively nullify your marriage. You must prove the invalidity of your marriage based on one of the circumstances listed in Statute 14-10-111.
Lack of capacity. The inability to consent to a marriage based on issues such as lack of mental capacity or mental infirmity, as well as intoxicating drugs or substances.
Impotency or failure to consummate. The failure to consummate a marriage within one year could give a spouse grounds to file for an annulment. The same is true if one spouse is impotent and the other party did not know this prior to marriage.
Lack of age of majority. Both parties must be 18 in Colorado to legally consent to marriage, except with legal consent from parents or legal guardians.
Fraud or misrepresentation. Some type of lie, scam or misrepresentation of fact by one party that led the other to marry.
Marriage under duress. Threats, intimidation or another form of duress by a third party that forces one or both parties to enter the marriage.
Jest or dare. A marriage entered into as a joke, jest or dare by one or both parties.
Bigamy or incest. A prohibited marriage by law due to the couple being closely related (by half or whole blood) or one spouse already being married.
Proof of one of these circumstances may come in the form of witness testimony, documents, photographs, other materials or experts. You must have lived within the state for at least the prior 30 days to initiate an annulment proceeding in Colorado unless you got married in the state.
The Annulment Process in Colorado
If you qualify for a declaration of invalidity, you or your family law attorney will need to fill out and submit the appropriate forms to the family court in the county where you live. Act quickly, as a deadline to file may apply to your annulment request. You have just six months, for example, if you are filing due to lack of capacity to consent, fraud, duress or jest. Other reasons could give you one to two years to file. You or your lawyer may have to prove grounds for annulment using evidence. If successful, your marital status will change from married to single, not divorced. The annulment will declare that you were never married, as your marriage was never valid.
Talk to an Expert Attorney
A successful declaration of invalidity could free you from a fraudulent or invalid marriage. Speak to an annulment attorney in Fort Collins if you wish to pursue this course of action. A lawyer can help you navigate the state’s related laws and protect your rights as you seek a declaration of invalidity from the family law courts in Colorado.