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By: Sampair Group

Differences Between Divorce Versus Annulment in Arizona

Phoenix family law attorney

What Is An “Annulment” In the State of Arizona?

It’s a sad truth, but some Arizona couples get married and rapidly know they’ve possibly made a grave mistake. Most couples believe they must go through the expense and stress of getting a divorce, but that is not always the case.

“Annulment” is often misunderstood as a legal term because certain religions and cultures have varied and inaccurate ideas of what it means.

Most believe that “civil annulments” are the same as “religious annulments,” which is untrue. Religious annulments can only be granted by a church or member of the clergy and have no legal effect on your marriage. A civil annulment is done through the Arizona courts and legally dissolves your marriage.

However, annulments and divorces are the same in that, if done through the Arizona courts, they will effectively decide regarding your marital status.

However, the critical difference between an annulment and a divorce is that a divorce legally ends your existing, court-bound, and valid marriage. An annulment states that what you thought was a valid and legal marriage was not a marriage at all. Therefore, in the view of the Arizona court and the law, your annulled marriage never really existed.

But, if your marriage never existed, and you had a child, what happens to them? You might feel that the paternity of your children could be questioned; it is technically accurate. If your marriage never occurred, any child born into the marriage could be deemed illegitimate.
However, that is not necessarily true, as your child was born as though both parents were single at the time of the birth.

This becomes a purely technical distinction with little practical impact.

Arizona law states, “Every child is the legitimate child of its natural parents and is entitled to support and education as if born in lawful wedlock, and the annulment laws support this statement. 

So, your child must be provided the same protection and support, whether you’re married or not. The Arizona courts mandate that if your child was born outside of marriage and paternity is established, then co-equal custody of the child exists.

Every case is unique, and the central fact you must know about an annulment is that there are specific criteria involved that will determine whether you can get your marriage annulled or not.

This is a legal area where the advice, knowledge, and experience of a Scottsdale or Chandler annulment lawyer will be invaluable.

What Are the Criteria Needed To Get My Marriage Annulled in Arizona?

Having an Arizona court grant you an annulment, in art, depends on your specific circumstances and can’t always be done by courts. Although your skilled annulment lawyer believes it’s the path you should take to end your marriage, there are criteria you must adhere to. However, even though regulations are involved in annulments, in many cases, and without children, it may be a far easier legal process than divorce.

Some of the grounds needed for you to pursue and receive an annulment in Arizona are:

  • Neither party was (and still is)married to someone else (bigamy).
  • Blood relatives relate to the parties.
  • One person was a minor at the time of the marriage and didn’t obtain proper or legal consent to be married.
  • One or both people didn’t have the mental capacity to get married.
  • One or both people were highly intoxicated or otherwise “under the influence” when they married.
  • One or both parties lacked the intent to enter into a marriage contract.
  • They did not have a legal or official marriage license.
  • There was fraud involved in getting the other person to marry.
  • Any force or coercion (legally known as “duress”) was used to get the other party to agree to the marriage.

These are only a few criteria that may allow you to obtain an annulment. If you must explore annulment, you must receive the knowledgeable council of a professional Glendale or Scottsdale annulment lawyer. Your lawyer will analyze the facts in your unique case and help you determine if you have sufficient grounds to do so.

What Are the Main Differences Between an Annulment and a Divorce?

First, you must consider that Arizona is a no-fault divorce state. So, the spouses do not have to demonstrate proof of the other spouse’s wrongdoing to be able to file for divorce.

That said, to get a divorce in Arizona, you must prove to the court that your marriage is “irretrievably broken,” and there are no ways that it can be repaired.

You must note that marriage is a legally binding contract, and to end it, the contract must then be legally broken. Divorce legally breaks the marriage contract but is only final when the court issues a divorce decree.

So, in a divorce, your “contract” must be legally broken, but with an annulment, the Arizona court simply wipes away your marriage as if it never occurred.

A divorce can be much messier, and critical issues such as property division, alimony, child custody, and more must be discussed and agreed upon, usually by the court.

But in an annulment, due to the fact your marriage never occurred, spousal support and specific other issues needn’t be discussed or decided upon.

Arizona allows annulments to take place, but most states do not. Therefore, if both parties agree on critical issues (such as child support, etc.), the courts don’t have to intervene. Only if agreements can’t be reached will the court supervise the division of assets, child support, etc.

Also, Arizona has a 60-day waiting period for divorces, but this does not apply to annulments.

So, annulment, in some cases, may be much more straightforward, possibly less costly, and quicker than divorce, but (as stated) you must meet specific criteria, and your skilled, thorough, and experienced annulment lawyer is qualified to help you make this decision.

What Are Some Benefits Of An Annulment in Arizona?

Remember that an annulment legally “wipes” away your there are some benefits to an annulment versus a divorce.

The cost of an annulment versus a divorce are similar, but one potential benefit of an annulment is that neither spouse must pay spousal support (or alimony).

Additionally, any existing prenuptial agreement may be invalidated in an annulment. In some cases of an annulment versus a divorce, any shared property with your spouse will be divided.

To divorce, the spouses must wait 60 days before filing and live in Arizona for at least 90 days. With an annulment, there is no “cooling off” period after filing an annulment like there is for divorce. In an annulment, either spouse may also remarry immediately.

There are other differences, but whether you will benefit from an annulment can only be legally and honestly determined by having a thorough consultation with a qualified, well-versed Maricopa County annulment lawyer.

I Want to Explore An Annulment Instead of Divorce; How Should I Proceed?

Ending a marriage, no matter how you do it, is always a stressful and challenging decision to make. Also, Arizona is one of the few states that allows property division in an annulment; however, any legal mistakes or oversights in filing an annulment can have expensive and long-lasting negative impacts.

The key to deciding to annul or divorce must be made with the help and legal guidance of a skilled Maricopa County annulment lawyer.

The well-versed annulment lawyers at The Sampair Group are highly capable of handling the complexities of an annulment or a divorce. Call them today at (602) 975-3361 for a free consultation on your case. Only then will you be able to know all the correct legal facts and that an annulment is right for you.