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Getting an “annulment” of your marriage, referred to as a declaration of invalidity of marriage in Colorado, is a rare path for ending a marriage. Thanks to the no-fault divorce it is easier to simply obtain a dissolution of marriage than to declare a marriage invalid, despite news reports of celebrities quickly getting annulments of their brief marriages.

As a practical matter, there is little difference between the outcomes of an annulment and a divorce in Colorado. With an annulment, however, the marriage effectively never happened, which may be appealing for personal reasons.

Can I file for an Annulment in Colorado?

Unlike a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, also known as a Divorce, where you simply have to show that there has been an irretrievable breakdown in the marriage, an Annulment of a marriage is much more difficult to achieve. To qualify for an Annulment in Colorado, you must meet one the following requirements as set forth in C.R.S. § 14-10-111(1):

  1. Mental Capacity. A spouse lacked the mental capacity to consent at the time of the marriage (e.g. mental incapacity, drugs, or alcohol);
  2. No Consummation. A spouse lacked the physical capacity to consummate the marriage (i.e. cannot have intercourse), and the other did not know this at the time of marriage;
  3. Age of Consent. A spouse was under the age to consent to marriage (18, or 16 with parental consent, for a marriage in Colorado) and did not have consent from parents, guardians, or a Colorado family law court to marry;
  4. Fraud. One spouse married in reliance on the other’s fraudulent act or misrepresentation which went “to the essence of the marriage”;
  5. Duress. One or both spouses married under duress;
  6. Jest. One or both spouses married as a jest or dare; or
  7. Void Marriage. The marriage was void due to: bigamy/polygamy, incest (ancestor & descendant, siblings, uncle/niece, or aunt/nephew), or any other reason under the laws of the place where the marriage was entered into.

What Fraud is “to the essence of the marriage”?

There are a few reported cases on what constitutes the type of fraud to support an annulment. Ultimately, it will be determined on a case by case basis whether the misrepresentation one party made was what induced the other party to marry, however these cases can provide some guidance.

  • A Claim of Illness. An Arapahoe County woman who remarried her ex-husband because he told her he was terminally ill, and his death was imminent, was granted an annulment. The Courtheld that the wife’s assertion that she only married so her husband would not die alone did go to the essence of the marriage. In re: Marriage of Farr, 228 P.3d 267 (Colo. App. 2010).
  • Marrying for Visa. A woman had married a U.S. citizen not because she loved him, but solely to enable her to move to the U.S. and establish residency. In that case, the husband was lonely and vulnerable, and the wife convinced him to marry her. They kept separate finances and she left the husband as soon as her green card was received. In re: Marriage of Joel &Roohi, 404 P.3d 1251 (Colo. App. 2012).

Is there a deadline to file for an Annulment?

A petition to invalidate a marriage must be filed within the following timeframes, based on the grounds for which you are looking to invalidate the marriage, and only be the indicated person:

  • Lack of Capacity to consent, Fraud, Duress, Jest/Dare: Within 6 months of learning of the grounds for annulment, and only by the harmed spouse (or a representative for the harmed spouse). C.R.S. § 14-10-111(2)(a).
  • Lack of physical capacity to consummate marriage: Within 12 months of learning of it, and only by the harmed spouse. C.R.S. § 14-10-111(2)(b).
  • Under age of consent: Within 24 months of marriage, by the underage spouse, or his/her parent or guardian. C.R.S. § 14-10-111(2)(c).
  • Void marriage: Any time prior to one spouse’s death or settlement of either spouse’s estate, by either spouse, either spouse’s children, an appropriate state official, or, in cases of bigamy/polygamy, the legal spouse. C.R.S. § 14-10-111(3).

The Colorado Annulment Process

The procedures for an annulment are similar to those in a divorce proceeding or legal separation. If the marriage occurred in Colorado, the petition for annulment can be initiated at any time within the deadline periods described above. If the marriage occurred outside of Colorado, at least one-party mush have been a resident of Colorado for 30 days before filing.

Even in a case for annulment, the court still resolves issues pertaining to the division of marital property and debts, maintenance, and parenting rights, responsibilities, and child support. As a result, a contested annulment could take as long to process as a divorce.

How can an Attorney at Burnham Law Help?

At any point during the process, high-tension situations can erupt into full-on litigation battles. Sound advice and effective representation from the top-rated lawyers at Burnham Law, however, can help you stay focused throughout the process.

Our top-rated team is ready to apply our knowledge and experience to overcome the challenges of annulment so you can move on with your life. To get answers about your options and how we can further assist you, contact us today for a consultation.

With multiple offices in Colorado, we provide exceptional counsel to clients throughout the Denver metro area and throughout the state of Colorado.