Annulments: Invalidity of Marriage and Civil Unions

aspen divorce

In Colorado, you can seek to have a marriage or civil union invalidated (annulled) under certain grounds.  A Decree of Invalidity declares a marriage or civil union invalid as if it had never taken place.  Children born of a marriage or civil union declared invalid are considered legitimate.

Matters of dividing property, maintenance, child support, and custody are resolved in exactly the same manner as in proceedings for legal separation or dissolution of marriage/civil union.

The fact that the marriage or civil union was of short duration does not solely establish a ground for a declaration of invalidity opposed to a divorce or dissolution of civil union.

A party may obtain a decree declaring a marriage or civil union to be invalid upon proof of any one of the following:

  • A party lacked capacity to consent to the marriage at the time the marriage was solemnized, either because of mental incapacity or infirmity or because of the influence of alcohol, drugs, or other incapacitating substances;
  • A party lacked the physical capacity to consummate the marriage by sexual intercourse, and the other party did not, at the time the marriage was solemnized, know of the incapacity;
  • A party was underage as provided by law and did not have the consent of his parents or guardian or judicial approval as provided by law;
  • One party entered into the marriage in reliance upon a fraudulent act or representation of the other party, which fraudulent act or representation goes to the essence of the marriage;
  • One or both parties entered into the marriage under duress exercised by the other party or by a third party, whether or not the other party knew of that exercise of duress;
  • One or both parties entered into the marriage as a jest or dare;
  • The marriage is prohibited by law because a marriage was entered into prior to the dissolution of an earlier marriage of one of the parties;
  • The marriage is prohibited by law because the marriage is between an ancestor and descendant or between family members;
  • A marriage which was void by the law of the place where the marriage was contracted.

It is important to note that if the grounds for the declaration of invalidity are fraudulent misrepresentations that went to the essence of the marriage, such fraud precludes an award of any property attributable to the innocent spouse’s contributions or a maintenance award.  The trend in the United States seems to be moving towards a modern approach to annulments based on fraud.

The Courts in Colorado have some discretion in determining what representations go to the “essence of the marriage.” For example, in one instance a Colorado Court determined that it was husband’s false assertion that he had a terminal illness and his death was imminent constituted a fraudulent misrepresentation that went to the essence of the marriage.  In another case, the Colorado court determined that entering into a marriage solely to obtain legal residence in the United States and not out of love rises to the necessary level.

For more information regarding Colorado annulments in the Vail and Roaring Fork Valleys contact Aspen attorney, Ryan Kalamaya or Vail attorney, Amy Goscha at 970-315-2365.

Kalamaya | Goscha is a Colorado law firm specializing in premarital agreements, divorce, child support, child custody, personal injury, DUI and criminal defense with offices located in Edwards, Glenwood Springs and Aspen.

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