What is an annulment?

When people are considering ending a marriage, most people think that the only option is to get a divorce, but this is not always the only option. In some circumstances, an annulment may be a much better option. An annulment is different than a divorce in that when an annulment is granted, legally, the marriage is treated as if it never existed. Even though the marriage never “legally” existed, when granting an annulment, courts will still address issues such as child custody, child support, and property and debt division.

The main reason that annulments are not as common as divorces, is that the grounds for getting an annulment are much stricter and are based on facts that were present at the time the marriage was entered in to (such as the ages of both parties getting married), not facts that later arise in the marriage (such as irreconcilable differences). Under Utah Code, § 30-1-17.1, a marriage can be annulled for the following reasons: (1) one person was married to someone else, including if that person was going through a divorce that had not yet been finalized; (2) one person was under the age of 18 and the parents did not consent to the marriage; (3) one person was under the age of 16; and (4) the marriage was between close relatives (for example, a brother and sister) who are not permitted to marry.

If any one of these reasons can be proven to the court, the length of the marriage is irrelevant. A court can also choose to grant an annulment, even if one of the above-listed reasons is not present, for various other reasons such as misrepresentation, fraud or refusal to consummate the marriage. If a person is trying to get an annulment not based upon any of the reasons listed by the statute, then the decision will be within the court’s discretion. Contact Hepworth and Associates today to learn more.