An annulment is the process of legally erasing a marriage. By law, the marriage will be considered as though it never happened. The legal significance of vacating or canceling the marriage is the difference between an annulment and a divorce.
What are the grounds for annulment in Utah?
Not every marriage can be annulled. There must be grounds for an annulment, or in other words, a legally justifiable reason. Unlike divorce, which grounds can be “no-fault” under the grounds of “irreconcilable differences,” there are specific reasons or grounds that must be satisfied before the Court can grant an annulment. These grounds fall into the two categories: (1) The marriage is prohibited or void under Utah law; (2) Common law grounds.
Marriage is prohibited or void under Utah law
Utah Code Ann. §30-1 describes what marriages are allowed and what marriages are prohibited in Utah. The marriages that are prohibited are void include the following:
- Incestuous marriages – Two people who are closely related you may not get married.
- If you are already married, you may not get married to another person.
- Minors under age 18 may not get married. (A 16 or 17-year-old who was married before May 14, 2019 with consent of a parent or legal guardian is allowed to get married).
Common law grounds for annulment
A marriage may be annulled for other reasons even though it was allowed by law. These grounds are not specified by law, but include reasons such as:
- Refusal to consummate the marriage
The key factor in showing common law grounds for an annulment is the existence of some fact or set of facts which were false or misleading and had the truth been known, the parties would not have agreed to get married.
How long the couple has been married is not a legal ground for an annulment under Utah law. Generally, annulments are for short-term marriages, but the length of the marriage isn’t considered as long as legal grounds for annulment exist.
What if the couple had children?
Other than the legal significance making it as if the marriage never happened, an annulment and a divorce are the same. The result is that it changes a person’s legal status from married to unmarried.
If the parties had kids together or purchased a house or other property, or incurred other financial obligations, entered joint contracts or other things, a judge can still divide property and debts, determine custody of a child, award child support and alimony, etc. This depends on the individual needs and circumstances of each party and what occurred during the time they were married.
How much does an annulment cost?
The cost of an annulment is generally much less than the cost of a divorce, but each case is different. As with a divorce, if there are more issues that are disputed by each party that result in the need for legal assistance or court involvement, the cost will be higher.
If you feel that your marriage never should have happened and would like to discuss whether filing for an annulment would be an option for you, our family law attorneys at Helgesen, Houtz & Jones can help you. Call us today for a free consultation today to discuss your options.