In Utah, the standard method of dissolving a marriage is divorce. However, in some cases, the parties may qualify for an annulment. When a court orders an annulment, the marriage, in the eyes of the law, never happened. Some people may find themselves in a situation where they need such an order. The most common situation would be where the marriage cut off a party’s prior right to alimony. There are two main reasons why Utah courts will grant an annulment. Convincing a judge to grant an annulment for either of those reasons is not always easy—even when the annulment goes uncontested.
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.
Obtaining an Annulment Can Be Difficult
Because of no-fault divorce, it is much easier for the court to decide that the parties should be divorced. Deciding whether to annul a marriage is more difficult and involved. If one spouse is hoping to reinstate alimony, it may become even more difficult because, to reinstate a Utah alimony award, the prior spouse must have an opportunity to dispute the annulment. If you are considering an annulment, you should consider consulting with an attorney.
At Christensen Law, we have handled both divorces and annulments. Feel free to contact us at 801-303-5800 for a free consultation by phone or in-person.