Annulment Laws for the State of Utah

By Cindy Chung

Couples sometimes marry under unlawful or questionable circumstances that could later lead to the need for an annulment. Also, some spouses might prefer annulment over divorce for personal or religious reasons. To obtain an annulment in Utah, spouses must meet the legal standard set by the state's annulment laws. If a couple cannot qualify for an annulment in Utah, they have the option of bringing divorce proceedings.

Couples sometimes marry under unlawful or questionable circumstances that could later lead to the need for an annulment. Also, some spouses might prefer annulment over divorce for personal or religious reasons. To obtain an annulment in Utah, spouses must meet the legal standard set by the state's annulment laws. If a couple cannot qualify for an annulment in Utah, they have the option of bringing divorce proceedings.

Legal Significance

The process of divorce in Utah is similar to that of annulment, but the two options are distinct types of court proceedings. An annulment cancels the existence of a marriage as if the spouses had never married in the first place, while a divorce ends an existing marriage. Although annulment and divorce are separate types of court cases, both may result in similar legal consequences — they allow the spouses to become single, unmarried persons again. Utah judges can enter court orders for property division, alimony, child custody and visitation, child support and other legal issues as part of an annulment proceeding, just as the judge might do in a divorce case.

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Statutory Grounds

Utah courts accept two grounds for obtaining an annulment: grounds set by the state's statutes and grounds established by common-law principles. The statutory grounds for annulment include: bigamy, i.e. one spouse was already married to another person; underage marriage, i.e. one spouse was not yet 18 years of age and a parent did not provide consent or, if marriage occurred after May 3, 1999, one spouse was not yet 16 years of age; same-sex marriage; and marriage between close blood relatives such as siblings.

Common-Law Grounds

In addition to the grounds established by statute, the Utah courts recognize other reasons for granting an annulment. A state court can grant an annulment if one of the spouses proves misrepresentation or dishonesty regarding an issue related to marriage. For example, a spouse may have lied about being single or being able to have children. A spouse may also request an annulment if the other spouse is unwilling to consummate the marriage through sexual relations.

Utah Annulment Procedures

The process to file for annulment in Utah is similar to the process required for a divorce. But unlike a divorce, an annulment does not include a residency period that requires the petitioner to have lived in Utah for a specific period of time. The person requesting the annulment must file the initial complaint, also known as the petition, with the local domestic relations court. The complaint may include the petitioner's preferences regarding 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 response papers. The annulment does not take effect until the court issues a final order granting the petition.

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How to File for an Annulment on the Grounds of Mental Disability

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Basis for Annulment

Couples often mistakenly assume that an annulment is an easier, cheaper and quicker alternative to a divorce, but in fact, obtaining an annulment is generally more difficult. State laws allow annulment in only limited circumstances. Couples cannot get an annulment unless their situation fits one of their state's legal grounds, or bases, for annulment. The process and bases for annulment varies by state, but annulment generally is not based on the length of time the couple has been married.

What Is the Law for Annulments in the State of Oregon?

If you are contemplating an annulment of your marriage, you should know that grounds for an annulment are limited in Oregon. Annulments are allowed only if the parties are incapable of entering into a marriage contract due to an insufficiency of legal age or understanding, or if the consent of either party was the result of fraud or force. You must be 18 — or 17 with parental consent — to legally marry in Oregon.

Conditions for Marriage Annulment in North Carolina

North Carolina, like most states, allows parties to obtain an annulment rather than a divorce. Qualifying for an annulment isn't easy, however. Certain conditions must be met. If a court finds that grounds for annulment are present, it will grant the request. Unlike a divorce decree, which ends a marriage that legally exists, an order of annulment treats the marriage as though it never existed at all.

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