publications - family law
In Arizona a marriage may be void, voidable, or valid. A void marriage is a nullity--an act having no legal validity; however, an annulment action is necessary to establish its invalidity as a matter of record. A.R.S. § 25-101. A voidable marriage continues until a party exercises his or her right to have it annulled. Divorce is the sole remedy to dissolve a valid marriage.
In order to get an annulment, there must have been something, called an impediment, that made the marriage void. A.R.S. § 25-301. “Void” as used in this statute includes “voidable,” and grounds for annulment are not limited to those specified by A.R.S. § 25-101, which lists void and prohibited marriages. Some examples of situations that may qualify as “voidable” are an undissolved prior marriage, one party being underage, a blood relationship, the absence of mental or physical capacity, intoxication, the absence of a valid license, duress, refusal of intercourse, fraud and misrepresentation as to religion.
The jurisdictional requirements and procedure for obtaining an annulment are the same as for a divorce. A.R.S. & 25-312. Most cases hold that no permanent alimony (spousal maintenance) may be granted in connection with annulment, but the court may determine custody of any children and provide for their support. A.R.S. § 25-302(B). While no community property can exist because the marriage is void, the parties should be able to recover for the value of his or her contribution to property purchased together. A.R.S. § 25-302(B). It should be noted that legal annulments are not the same as religious annulments.