Many people assume that a Colorado annulment is simply an easy way to end a brief marriage. The reality is that a declaration of invalidity of marriage (the legal term for annulment in Colorado) is a rarely-used procedure, and thanks to no-fault divorces, it is seldom easier than obtaining a Colorado divorce (dissolution of marriage).
From a practical perspective, there is little difference between an annulment and a dissolution in Colorado. The legal effect is that the marriage never happened, which may benefit those who would rather avoid a Colorado divorce for religious reasons, or perhaps to reinstate benefits or payments lost when one party marries, such as maintenance or military medical benefits.
Legal Grounds for Annulment in Colorado:
Unlike a dissolution of marriage, which requires simply that the marriage is irretrievably broken, a person seeking a Colorado annulment must prove one of the specific legal grounds. Talk to a Colorado family law attorney who knows Colorado annulment laws to see if your case meets one of the following criteria outlined in C.R.S. 14-10-111:
- One party lacked the mental capacity to consent at the time of the marriage (e.g. mental incapacity, drugs, or alcohol),
- One party lacked the physical capacity to consummate the marriage (i.e. cannot have intercourse), and the other party did not know this at the time of marriage,
- One party was under the age to consent to marriage (18, or 16 with consent, for a Colorado marriage) and did not have consent from parents, guardians, or a Colorado family law court to marry,
- One party married because of the other's fraudulent act or misrepresentation which went "to the essence of the marriage",
- One party married under duress,
- One party married as a jest or dare, or
- The marriage was void due to: XXXXX XXXXX (ancestor & descendant, siblings, uncle & niece, or aunt & nephew), or any other reason under the laws of the place where the marriage was entered into.
Colorado Annulment Deadlines:
A Colorado annulment must be initiated within the following time frames, and only by the persons indicated:
- Lack of mental capacity, fraud, or duress: Within 6 months of learning of it, by the aggrieved party.
- Lack of physical capacity to consummate marriage: Within 12 months of learning of it, by the aggrieved party.
- Under age of consent: Within 24 months of marriage, by the minor or a parent or guardian.
- Void marriage: Any time prior to one spouse's death or settlement of either party's estate, by either party, either party's children, an appropriate state official, or, in cases of bigamy/polygamy, the legal spouse.
Colorado Annulment Procedure:
If the marriage was entered into in Colorado, an annulment can be initiated at any time. If it was an out-of-state marriage, at least one party must be a Colorado resident for 30 days before initiating the annulment (compare this to a Colorado dissolution, which requires 90 days).
There is no 90-day waiting period after the other party is served before obtaining an annulment. However, the Colorado family law court must still resolve the issues of the division of marital property and debts, maintenance, and, if there are children, parenting rights and responsibilities and child support. So, from a practical perspective, unless the annulment is uncontested (including the other party admitting to, and the court accepting, the legal grounds for the annulment), it will still take as long as a divorce in Colorado.
Finally, even though Colorado will invalidate a marriage, retroactive to the date it was entered into, any children born of the marriage are still considered legitimate.