In the State of Colorado and elsewhere, the primary means by which couples attain legal separation is divorce. But, though this is the case, divorce is not the only way that a marriage can be formally ended. In this post, we're going to provide an overview of the “annulment” process in Colorado. As we will see, annulment is similar to divorce, but also differs in some very important respects. Let's dive in and explore this interesting topic.
Divorce vs. Annulment: The Essential Difference
As mentioned, divorce and annulment are similar. Both processes lead to the dissolution of a marriage. However, there is a key difference between these two processes: a divorce ends a legally valid marriage, whereas an annulment ends a marriage by determining that a valid marriage never existed from the beginning. In other words, in a divorce, you are stating reasons as to why the marriage needs to end, but an annulment states that the marriage itself was non-existent. This difference can be highly significant, especially in certain contexts. For instance, many religious people prefer to obtain an annulment to remain consistent with certain religious doctrines.
Grounds for a “Declaration of Invalidity” in Colorado
To obtain an annulment in Colorado, a petitioner needs to cite one or more acceptable grounds for this ruling. However, before we discuss the possible grounds for annulment, we should mention that the State of Colorado doesn't use the term “annulment,” but instead uses “invalidity” in its place. So, instead of acquiring an annulment, a couple will obtain a “declaration of invalidity,” and this document will have essentially the same impact as an annulment.
Here is an incomplete list of the grounds which can be cited to attain a declaration of invalidity:
- One of the spouses couldn't enter the marriage (i.e., mental incapacity or intoxication)
- One of the parties only agreed to the marriage because of a dare
- The marriage was bigamous or incestuous (as defined by Colorado law)
- One of the spouses agreed to the marriage under duress
- One of the spouses used fraudulent methods to convince the other to enter the marriage
As you can see, the grounds for invalidity follow a similar logic: there must be some essential defect in the marriage to overturn it and declare that it never really existed from a legal standpoint. The defect can't be minor, it needs to be something that undermines the relationship at its core.
Basics of the Invalidity Process in CO
The first step in obtaining a declaration of invalidity is making sure that you meet the residency requirements. You need to have been married in Colorado or be domiciled in Colorado for a minimum of 30 days before the court proceedings, to qualify for a declaration. Then, you need to make sure that you comply with all the statutes of limitation which apply. Colorado has different statutes for different grounds for invalidity. So, for instance, if you intend to cite “marrying on a dare” as grounds, you need to apply for invalidity within 6 months of realizing that the dare existed. For other grounds, the limitation is the same (6 months) or longer.
If you're eligible to apply for a declaration, you'll need to complete multiple court forms which include various kinds of information. For instance, you'll need to complete a “case information sheet,” a petition for a declaration of invalidity, summons for declaration, and others depending on the situation.
Contact the Drake Law Firm for More Information
Given the complexity of applying for a declaration of invalidity, you are strongly advised to consult with an attorney before beginning this process. For more information, contact the Drake Law Firm today by calling 720-790-7364.