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Utah Annulments
Annulments in Utah

Both annulment and divorce result in similar legal end - both permit the partners to become single, unmarried persons again. However, where a divorce simply ends an existing marriage, an annulment vacates a marriage as if the spouses had never married. Utah judges can still divide property, award alimony, determine child custody and visitation, grant child support and other legal issues as part of an annulment action, however.

The Utah law on annulment is in Title 30, Chapter 1 of the Utah Code.

Grounds

Utah courts accept two types of grounds for obtaining an annulment: grounds set by the state's statutes and grounds established by common-law principles.

The statutory grounds for annulment are:

  • bigamy, when one spouse was already married to another person;
  • underage marriage, when one spouse was not yet 18 years of age and a parent did not provide consent or, if the marriage occurred after May 3, 1999, one spouse was not yet 16 years of age;
  • incest, which is marriage between close blood relatives such as between a niece and uncle, an aunt and nephew, direct descendants (parent and child or grandparent and grandchild), siblings (whether by full blood or by half), or first cousins.

Common law grounds include:

  • fraud, when a partner proves misrepresentation or dishonesty regarding an issue essential to the marriage. For example, a spouse may have lied about being single or being able to have children.
  • failure to consummate, when one partner is unwilling to consummate the marriage through sexual relations

Legally speaking, an annulled marriage never took place. Both parties are eligible to marry again immediately. Unlike a divorce in some jurisdictions, both parties may marry immediately. Annulments often end marriages of very short duration. Utah's provisions on child visitation rights and distribution of common property are controlling in the case of a longstanding marriage.

Couples who marry under unlawful or questionable circumstances sometimes need an annulment. Some people prefer annulment over divorce for personal or religious reasons. Couples who cannot qualify for an annulment in Utah can end a marriage through divorce instead.

Procedure

Filing for an annulment in Utah is similar to filing for a divorce; however, an annulment does not have a residency requirement. The appellant files a complaint, which is called the petition, in the district court. The complaint stipulates desired relief on legal issues such as property division, child custody, visitation, and financial support through alimony or child support. The other spouse has an opportunity to file a response. The annulment does not take effect until the court issues a final order granting the petition.

The filing includes completion of several different forms depending on the grounds of the annulment and the payment of filing fees. Next the other spouse must be given a copy of the complaint, which can be done by the court, through an unrelated third party or through the mail. Finally the court hears the case. If either party misrepresented their age, a court may not always grant an annulment.

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