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Colorado Annulments
Annulments in Colorado

Sometimes a person seeks an annulment for religious reasons or (more likely but mistakenly) he or she may believe that an annulment is less contentious and less expensive than a divorce. Getting an annulment in Colorado is more difficult than getting a divorce because simply proving that the marriage is broken is not sufficient. A divorce legally ends a marriage; an annulment means that a marriage was invalid and that it never actually existed.

Colorado is a no-fault divorce state, so it may be easier to obtain a divorce than an annulment even though an annulment may be preferred. Instead, an annulment petitioner must prove one of the specific legal grounds, which are set forth in C.R.S. 14-10-111(1).

Grounds

In Colorado, a party can petition for annulment if:

  • one party lacked the mental capacity to consent at the time of the marriage because of mental problems, drugs, or alcohol;
  • one party lacked the physical capacity to consummate the marriage, and the other did not know this at the time of marriage;
  • one party was under the age to consent and did not have consent from parents, guardians, or a Colorado family law court to marry;
  • one party married in reliance on the other's fraudulent act or misrepresentation which went "to the essence of the marriage, " for example, misrepresentation might apply if a person lied to a partner in order to get married to receive a green card and had no intention of staying in the marriage once that happened;
  • one or both parties married under duress;
  • one or both parties married as a jest or dare; or
  • The marriage is void due to bigamy/polygamy, incest (ancestor & descendant, siblings, uncle/niece, or aunt/nephew), or any other reason under the laws of the place where the marriage was entered into.

Many areas of Colorado family law apply to both an annulment and a divorce. Contested annulments may take as long to obtain as a divorce. Laws related to division of marital property, child support and alimony are all applicable to an annulment, and children born of an annulled marriage are still considered legitimate.

Statutes of limitation limit the filing of annulments. These are:

  • for lack of mental capacity, or on a claim of fraud, duress, jest or a dare, must be initiated within six months of the marriage;
  • on a claim of impotence, within 12 months;
  • under the age of consent, 24 months after the marriage.
  • on a claim of bigamy, polygamy or incest, anytime.

Procedure

The procedures for a Colorado annulment are identical to those for a divorce or legal separation. Unlike divorce or separation, there is no requirement that one spouse is a resident for 90 days prior to commencing the annulment, and there is no statutory 90-day waiting period between commencement and the decree of invalidity of marriage. However, if the parties married outside of Colorado, at least one of them must reside in the state for 30 days before the annulment can be filed.

The standard of proof in an annulment is the preponderance of the evidence, which means more likely true than not true, or greater than 50 percent.

Pursuant to C.R.S. 14-10-111(7), for a marriage that happened in Colorado, an annulment can be initiated at any time as described above.

To file, the petitioner completes the required paperwork - a domestic relations case information sheet, a petition for declaration of invalidity of marriage and a summons for declaration of invalidity of marriage.

He or she files the petition for annulment at the county clerk's office in the county where he or she resides.

The petitioner serves the other spouse if he or she did not file as a co-petitioner.

Other paperwork must be completed including the decree of declaration of invalidity of marriage, the certificate of compliance, the financial affidavit, the separation agreement and the mandatory disclosure, a parenting plan, support order and child support worksheet must also be completed.

At a hearing the court weighs the evidence, and the order or decree of declaration of invalidity of marriage is then sent by mail or email.

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