There’s more than one way to end a marriage with your living spouse. The most common way is divorce. Annulment is another way to end a marriage, by invalidating it, but this legal process is not for all marriages.
Let’s explore the answers to some frequently asked questions about obtaining an annulment in Colorado.
Colorado recognizes six specific situations that are grounds for annulment:
- Dubious consent: When one of the spouses could not legally consent to the marriage due to mental problems or momentary intoxication by drugs or alcohol.
- Inability to consummate: When one spouse is unable to consummate the marriage by sexual intercourse, and the other spouse was not aware at the time of the marriage.
- Underage: At least one spouse was underage at the time of the marriage and did not have permission from a parent, guardian, or a Colorado judge.
- Fraud: One spouse used fraud or dishonesty to entice the other to marriage, and the nature of the fraud went to the “heart” or core of the marriage.
- Pressure: At least one spouse married under duress because of pressure or coercion.
- Jest: When the marriage happened because of a joke, a prank, or a dare.
- Unlawful: The marriage is considered illegal in Colorado either because it is bigamous (one spouse is still legally married to another person) or because the spouses are related by blood.
The cost to obtain a declaration of invalidity depends on if the annulment is being contested.
In Colorado, even if a marriage is eligible for annulment, the respondent spouse may contest the action. The contesting spouse can choose to fight over assets and property much like in a divorce. When that is the case, your expenses can easily become thousands of dollars.
If the declaration of invalidity is not contested, your costs should be limited to a $230 filing fee plus attorney’s fees. This would still cost significantly less than a contested declaration of invalidity.
The answer to that depends on why you’re seeking the annulment. For instance, if one spouse was underage at the time of the marriage, making it an illegal marriage, then either spouse or the parent of the underage spouse has two years to file for an annulment.
In most situations, however, the statute of limitations is six months from the time the plaintiff realized or learned the marriage shouldn’t be valid. In cases where one spouse could not consummate the marriage, the time limit to file is one year.
When it comes to bigamous or incestuous unions, there is no statute of limitations as long as both spouses in the voidable marriage are still alive.
This is still a frequently asked question, even though it rarely comes up in modern annulments.
In Colorado, children born from prohibited relationships or marriages are considered legitimate under the law. This means that once the declaration of invalidity has been granted, the state treats child custody, child support, and parenting time exactly the same as it would in a divorce settlement.
When it comes to alimony, Colorado treats annulments like divorce settlements. So, one party to an annulment action can ask the court to consider awarding spousal maintenance, even though the marriage never legally existed in the eyes of the law.
If one of the spouses was receiving maintenance (alimony) from a prior divorce, those payments end if the spouse remarries. If that remarriage is later invalidated, the court can consider whether to restore the previous alimony payments, but that does not automatically happen.