An annulment is not a divorce. While a divorce officially terminates a marriage, an annulment is a declaration that the marriage never existed in the first place. In Colorado, an annulment is officially called a "declaration of invalidity."
Legal Grounds for Obtaining an Annulment
While divorce in Colorado is "no-fault" and requires only a declaration that the marriage is irretrievably broken, an annulment will only be granted under certain specific circumstances. An annulment will be granted if (1) one party lacked the capacity to consent to the marriage due to mental incapacity, infirmity, or intoxication, (2) one party lacked the physical capacity to consummate the marriage by sexual intercourse, and the other party did not at the time the marriage was solemnized know of the incapacity, (3) one party was underage at the time of marriage, (4) one party entered the marriage believing a fraudulent misrepresentation that went to the essence of the marriage, (5) one party married under duress, (6) one party married as a jest or dare, or (7) the marriage was void due to bigamy, incest, or any other law of the place where the marriage was contracted to. These are the only reasons an annulment will be granted.
Deadlines for Obtaining an Annulment
If the marriage is to be annulled because of lack of capacity, fraud, duress, or a jest or dare, a party must file for an annulment within 6 months of learning of the described condition. If a party learns of the lack of the ability of the other party to consummate the marriage, that aggrieved party must file within 12 months of learning of the described condition. If a party is underage, that party, or the party's parent or legal guardian has 24 months to file. If the marriage is void for bigamy, incest, or for some other reason, either spouse, either spouse's children, an appropriate state official, or, in cases of bigamy/polygamy, the legal spouse, can all file for an annulment at any time prior to one spouse's death or settlement of either spouse's estate.
Legitimacy of Children
Children born into a marriage that is later annulled are still considered legitimate.
In a divorce, at least one party must have resided in Colorado for 90 days before filing for dissolution. The rules for an annulment are different. If the marriage took place in Colorado, there is no residency requirement at all before filing for annulment. If the marriage took place outside of Colorado, at least one party must have resided in Colorado for thirty days prior to filing for the annulment.