Differences Between an Annulment and Divorce

When separation is on the horizon, couples must decide how they want to legally separate. In Colorado, married couples can obtain an annulment or divorce, though an annulment might not be available to most couples.

Requirements for an Annulment

An annulment also called a “declaration of invalidity” in Colorado, legally renders your marriage invalid. Thanks to popular culture, many people assume that an annulment is a quick and easy way to end a short marriage. Actually, annulments are available in only limited circumstances, as spelled out in the state’s statute:

  • One or both spouses lacked the required mental capacity to get married. For example, they might have been high on drugs at the time of marriage.
  • One spouse lacks the capacity to consummate the marriage and the other did not know. For example, a husband might have hidden his impotence, which is an unwelcome surprise after the marriage.
  • One spouse was not old enough to get married.
  • One or both spouses married only under duress or as a dare.
  • The marriage is void for various legal reasons (incest, bigamy).
  • One spouse procured the marriage through misrepresentation or fraud that cuts to the “heart of the marriage.”

This last one deserves more commentary because it is so vague. The statute does not spell out what cuts to the heart of a marriage, but some examples include marrying so you can get a green card to stay in the country or lying that you are on your deathbed.

If you do not meet one of the above qualifications, then you cannot obtain an annulment. Instead, you will need to divorce.

Requirements for Divorce

There are very few requirements for a divorce. Basically, you must have lived in Colorado long enough so that the state will divorce you. Currently, the residency requirement is 90 days in the state. If you haven’t been domiciled in Colorado for that long, you will need to wait.

Colorado is a no-fault divorce state, meaning you don’t need to accuse your spouse of infidelity or mental illness to get a divorce. Instead, you can claim the marriage has broken down and you can’t repair it.

Why You Might Seek an Annulment

Given how easy it is to divorce, there are rarely situations where you will want to seek an annulment. However, some couples seek an annulment for religious reasons. Depending on your faith, you might face censure or embarrassment if you get divorced. With an annulment, the marriage has never happened, so you can avoid any unpleasant consequences that you fear.

Alternately, you might have lost rights to certain benefits after getting married or remarried. By seeking an annulment, you might be able to reestablish your right to those payments or benefits, which would be lost if you only divorced.

Seek Counsel from an Experienced Colorado Divorce Attorney

If you are contemplating divorce or annulment, we are here to help. The Fort Collins divorce lawyers at Divorce Matters understand the intricacies of both annulment and divorce and can help you end your marriage as efficiently as possible. Schedule your consultation with us today by calling 720-580-6745.