What You Need to Know About an Annulment Versus Divorce in Arizona
When a marriage is no longer working, couples often consider ending their union through either divorce or annulment. While both options lead to the dissolution of a marriage, there are distinct differences between the two processes. This article aims to explain what you need to know about an annulment versus divorce in Arizona.
An annulment, also known as a “declaration of invalidity of marriage,” declares a marriage null and void, as if it never legally existed. On the other hand, a divorce terminates a valid marriage. Understanding the key differences between the two is crucial for anyone contemplating the end of their marriage in Arizona.
1. Grounds for Annulment: Unlike divorce, which only requires a showing of irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, an annulment requires specific grounds. These grounds include fraud, bigamy, incest, lack of consent, or incapacity to marry.
2. Timelines: In Arizona, there is no statutory time limit for filing for an annulment. However, if a couple separates and then continues to live together for more than 90 days, an annulment may no longer be an option. Divorce, on the other hand, can be filed at any time during the marriage or after separation.
3. Financial Considerations: In a divorce, property division, spousal support, and child support are determined based on the couple’s financial circumstances. In an annulment, property division is generally straightforward, as the assets and debts are usually returned to their original owners.
4. Children: Unlike divorce, an annulment does not automatically address child custody or child support issues. If there are children involved, the court will still determine custody and support arrangements based on the best interests of the child.
5. Legal Status: Since an annulment declares the marriage null and void, parties can legally state that they were never married. In a divorce, the legal status changes from married to single or divorced.
6. Religious Implications: An annulment may also have religious implications for individuals who wish to remarry within their religious institutions. Some religions do not recognize divorce but may grant an annulment under certain circumstances.
7. Presumption of Validity: In a divorce, the marriage is presumed valid until proven otherwise. In an annulment, the presumption is that the marriage is invalid until proven otherwise.
8. Annulment Fraud: If a party obtains an annulment fraudulently, such as by lying about the grounds for annulment, the court may declare the marriage valid and convert the annulment into a divorce.
9. Emotional Considerations: The emotional impact of an annulment versus a divorce can vary. An annulment may provide a sense of closure by declaring the marriage void, while a divorce acknowledges the end of a valid marriage and can involve more complex emotional considerations.
1. Can I get an annulment if I have been married for several years?
– Yes, as long as you can establish one of the specific grounds for annulment.
2. Will I be entitled to alimony if I get an annulment?
– Alimony may be awarded in certain circumstances, but it depends on the specific facts of your case.
3. Can I remarry immediately after an annulment?
– Yes, once the annulment is granted, you are free to remarry.
4. Do I need a lawyer for an annulment?
– It is advisable to consult with an experienced family law attorney to guide you through the process.
5. Can an annulment be contested?
– Yes, either party can contest an annulment, which may require presenting evidence to support their position.
6. What happens to our joint property in an annulment?
– Generally, joint property is returned to its original owners, but specific circumstances may require a different division.
7. Can I get an annulment if my spouse was already married?
– Yes, bigamy is one of the grounds for annulment in Arizona.
8. Will an annulment affect child custody and support?
– Child custody and support must be addressed separately, as an annulment does not automatically determine these matters.
9. Can I get an annulment if I was forced into the marriage?
– Yes, lack of consent is a grounds for annulment if you can prove that you were forced or coerced into the marriage.
It is essential to consult with a knowledgeable family law attorney to understand the specific implications of an annulment versus divorce in Arizona. Each case is unique, and professional guidance can ensure the best possible outcome for all parties involved.