Salt Lake City Annulment Attorney
In many respects, seeking an annulment is similar to seeking a divorce. Both result in the legal separation of a couple. An annulment, however, is a legal declaration that a marriage never happened, and without an experienced attorney by your side, it can be difficult to obtain. Given a choice, judges typically prefer to grant a no-fault divorce instead of granting an annulment.
Going through any relationship separation, especially a legal one can be an incredibly trying and painful experience. At Christensen Law, we understand that this is a stressful and emotional time for you. Annulments can only be granted under certain qualifying circumstances, which are not always clear-cut. The knowledgeable annulment lawyers at Christensen Law have experience with the intricacies of Utah marriage law, however, and we can help you through this difficult period in your life.
You need the help of a skilled annulment attorney to support you through the annulment process and answer all your questions. We have helped many clients facing similar circumstances and can guide you through the hard decisions involved in a separation like this.
You don’t have to go through this alone. Call us at (801) 890-5109 to schedule a free consultation.
What Is an Annulment?
Courts can terminate Marriages in Utah either by divorce or annulment. Whereas divorce acknowledges that a marriage existed at one time and is now dissolved, an annulment states that the marriage never legally existed.
Annulments are sometimes an alternative to divorce, and under some religions are considered valid where divorce would not be an option. A person who has received an annulment for a marriage may be permitted by their religion to remarry.
A civil annulment, which is the subject of this page, is governed by court order. Religious annulments are a different matter, and often need to be handled within their own religious tradition, though you still may be able to benefit from the advice of a lawyer.
In Utah, there are certain legal grounds that at least one of which the petitioning party must establish to have a marriage annulled:
- The married persons are too closely related to each other.
- One person significantly himself or herself to the other, to hide significant facts relating to the essence of the marriage.
- One person is already married to someone else.
- A person is under 18 and does not have parental consent.
- A person is unable to consummate the marriage.
- One person commits extreme fraud which impacts the marriage.
- State laws governing marriage were not followed, such as failure to obtain a marriage license.
- Any other reason that would make the marriage prohibited or void under Utah law.
- Any other reason allowed by the common law.
Getting an annulment in Utah can be difficult, and courts will often decide that the parties qualify only for a divorce. A hearing at which the judge must be persuaded to grant the annulment is almost always required, even when the parties agree to the annulment from the beginning. It is important to have an attorney who is knowledgeable about annulments under Utah law.
How to Get an Annulment in Utah
The first step is to file a petition for annulment in the district court of the county in which you or your spouse is domiciled. Utah has no time limit within which a person must file for an annulment.
There are a number of things you will need to list in your filing, including your and your spouse’s full names, the legal grounds for your annulment, and facts that should be addressed as part of your case, including property division, child custody, alimony, child support, and other issues related to your separation. Your attorney can help you with these considerations. The petition must then be served on your spouse.
Once the petition has been served, the case will proceed in due course. If the other side stipulates to the annulment, the court will schedule a hearing. You should bring any witnesses and evidence to the hearing that will help to prove your grounds for annulment. The judge will then rule as to whether the marriage is annulled. Otherwise, if there is no stipulation, the case will go through the standard discovery process, followed eventually by a trial. It is probably good to petition in the alternative for a divorce so that you can obtain a divorce even if the judge declines to grant an annulment.
You Can Obtain Annulments for Invalid Marriages
Utah has laws governing who can get married to who and how the marriage is to be performed. People who enter a marriage in violation of those laws can make good arguments for annulment. For example, Utah Law requires a marriage license. If the parties fail to obtain a marriage license or misuse their marriage license, an annulment might be possible. Other examples include incestuous marriages, bigamous marriages, and underage marriages.
You Can Obtain Annulments for Reasons Provided in Common Law
In addition to taking guidance from the Utah Code and court rules, courts refer to prior cases decided by appellate courts. The Utah Code explicitly authorizes courts to look at prior cases to see what other good reasons there might be for an annulment. Typically, these reasons involve some sort of fraud on the part of one of the spouses. The fraud must be related directly to the marriage. It must also rise to the level where if one spouse had known the truth, he or she would not have gone through with the marriage. Examples are case-specific. The examples typically include spouses lying about the real reason they want to marry or about how they will really treat the marriage relationship.
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