Annulments in Arizona; Practical or Not?
In Arizona, the law related to annulments is putting it nicely convoluted. That is why I preface this blog post by saying that if you even remotely believe that you are entitled to an annulment, please meet with an experienced Arizona family law attorney versed on the specific subject matter prior to commencing action with the court.
In order to qualify for an annulment in Arizona, there must be something called an impediment that renders the marriage void. See A.R.S. ? 25-301. An annulment is different from a divorce in that under the former the marriage is "void" and therefore will be considered unrecognized; whereas with the latter the marriage is considered valid and recognized and thus subject to community property marital distribution laws and principles. Thus, to avoid application of the "equitable division (50/50)" distribution that comes with every divorce action, an annulment may instead be sought.
For purpose of annulment, a void marriage is defined by A.R.S. ? 25-101 as a marriage "between parents and children, including grandparents and grandchildren of every degree, between brothers and sisters of the one-half as well as the whole blood, and between uncles and nieces, aunts and nephews and between first cousins" or "between persons of the same sex." A void marriage is a nullity. Though it has no legal validity an annulment action is necessary to establish its invalidity as a matter of record.
Although any given marriage may be "void", that marriage nonetheless continues until one spouse exercises his or her right to have it annulled. A non exhaustive list of reasons for rendering a marriage voidable include: an undissolved prior marriage, one party being underage, a blood relationship, the absence of mental or physical capacity, intoxication, the absence of a valid license, duress, refusal of intercourse, fraud and misrepresentation as to religion.
Although many domestic relations (family law) forms can be obtained online through your local Superior Court's website, because they are rarely used in today's society you will have a hard time finding forms and/or petitions for Arizona annulments online. Again, this is but another reason why it is imperative that you meet with an experienced Arizona family law attorney prior to commencing an action for annulment with your local Superior Court.
It is also important to note that by statute, jurisdictional and procedural requirements for obtaining an annulment are the same as those for a divorce action. See A.R.S. ? 25-302(A). Finally, if your annulment action is successful and thus renders your marriage voidable, it is worth noting that the court does possess jurisdiction to divide property and restore the same to each party as it was possessed prior to the voided marriage and may likewise determine matters related to children common to the parties such as custody, parenting time, and child support.