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Filing a petition for Annulment is much different than for divorce. A divorce merely terminates a marriage whereas an annulment renders the marriage null and void—as though it never existed.
Getting a marriage annulled can be complicated because more issues have to be proven. Additionally, the legal effects of the marriage are very different. An annulment results in different financial, social and religious consequences than a divorce. While most couples who wish to end their marriage may be able to meet the legal grounds for a divorce, not all can obtain an annulment.
Even though an annulment means the marriage never existed, the court may still issue orders regarding children of the couple that are in the child’s interests, such as child custody, parent time, and child support for children born during the marriage. Issues of property and debt division are handled differently in an annulment; however, the court will be able to issue orders that effectuate a fair disbursement of such property and debt obtained by the parties during the marriage, even if the marriage is later deemed voided because of a grant of annulment.
Factors for Annulment
Under Utah Code Section 30-1-17.1, a marriage can be annulled only for one of the following reasons:
- One person was married to someone else, including if that person’s divorce decree was not yet final.
- One person was under 18, and that person’s parent did not consent to the marriage under Section 30-1-9.
- One person was under 14 (if the marriage was before May 3, 1999) or under 16 (if the marriage was on or after May 3, 1999) and they did not meet the conditions under Section 30-1-9.
- The marriage was between parties of the same sex, even if the marriage was performed in another state
- The marriage was incestuous, such as being between close relatives (such as a brother and sister or parent and child) who are not permitted to marry.
- Other common law grounds, such as fraud or mistake
Length of marriage is not a legal ground for annulment under Utah’s statute. That is, even if the marriage was only for a few days, that is not a reason for an annulment. Nevertheless, a short-term marriage can be valuable in proving some of the legal factors, such as impotency, fraud, or mistake. That is, although the statute does not specifically list it, a marriage can also be annulled for other reasons recognized by the court, such as misrepresentation, fraud or refusal to consummate the marriage.
Fraud can be demonstrated as a ground for annulment in several different situations. One spouse must have made a substantial and material untruth that influenced the other spouse’s decision to marry. The spouse petitioning for annulment must also prove that he or she reasonably relied on the lie. Fraud can be based on circumstances like when a woman tells her prospective husband that she is pregnant by him to induce him to marry her when she was not pregnant, or when a spouse misrepresents his wealth or job position to the other spouse where such financial status was material to the victim spouse.
“Lack of disclosure” can also be a ground for an annulment in circumstances where one spouse failed to disclose a substantial and material fact prior to the marriage. Examples of this would be where a spouse failed to reveal several previous marriages or a serious criminal history. If a party can establish to the court’s satisfaction that he or she would not have entered into the marriage if this important fact had been disclosed, an annulment may be granted.
Kim Trupiano has handled petitions for annulment in which one spouse had committed fraud on the other spouse, inducing a marriage that the defrauding spouse had not fully believed in or had not fully participated in. This often occurs in situations where one spouse uses the other for money only or to obtain certain benefits, like immigration law benefits. In such situations, it may be possible to strip the defrauding spouse of his or her entitlement to marital property or to his or her immigration status obtained through the fake marriage by filing for an annulment and proving that the marriage was never real in the first place.
Why Trupiano Law Is Successful
- Aggressive — Although attorney Kim Trupiano works to find resolutions where they can be obtained, she prepares for trial, not for settlement. Kim exploits any hole in the other side’s case to gain advantage and maximize the positive outcomes for her clients.
- Thorough — Kim’s attention to detail is essential to challenging evidence in court proceedings and producing a strong evidentiary case for her client, including strongly-backed and detailed motions for relief.
- Compassionate — She eases client concerns by taking the time to explain clients’ rights, explore their options and keep them updated about progress in the case.
- Creative — Kim does her homework to raise new defense and affirmative relief theories, or to negotiate alternative resolutions and outcomes.