Today, annulments are rare but are still a legal option distinct from divorce. If an annulment is granted, it's like the marriage never happened and it is nullified. In divorce, the marriage not only happened, but because it happened, marital property division laws affect what assets you get to keep after the divorce.
Prohibited marriages are similar in that if a marriage wasn't legal to begin with, there's no need to divorce as the marriage is void. Sometimes, the barrier to the marriage is less significant and the marriage is considered "voidable" not void.
This article provides a brief overview of annulment and prohibited marriage laws in the state of Colorado.
Annulment and Prohibited Marriage Laws in Colorado
The table below outlines Colorado annulment and prohibited marriage laws.
|Grounds for Annulment
Under C.R.S. § 14-10-111(1), the district court shall declare the invalidity of a marriage entered into under the following circumstances:
- A party lacked the 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 know of the incapacity at the time the marriage was solemnized
- A party was under the age of consent and did not have their parent's or legal guardian's consent 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 goes to the essence of the marriage
- One or both parties entered the marriage under duress by the other party or a third party
- One of the parties entered into the marriage in jest or dare
- The marriage is prohibited by law
|Time Limits for Obtaining Annulment
||Under C.R.S. § 14-10-111(2), the time limit to get an annulment depends on the reason for the annulment, as listed below:
- Six months: Duress, fraud, dare, or lack of capacity due to mental illness, alcohol, or drugs, starting from the date of the knowledge of the problem; for example, if you found out about fraud two years later, the six months doesn't start until then
- One year: Sexual inability, must ask for annulment within one year of knowledge of the condition
- 24 months: Underage and lacked the consent of parents or guardian
- Prior to Death of Either party or Closing of Estate: only for prohibited marriages
|Legitimacy of Children
||Children of an invalid or prohibited marriage are legitimate, although this legal status is nearly irrelevant in modern times. (C.R.S. § 14-10-111(6))
Under C.R.S. § 14-10-111(1)(g), the following marriages are prohibited by law in Colorado:
- A marriage entered into prior to the dissolution of an earlier marriage of one of the parties
- A marriage between an ancestor and descendant or between a brother and a sister, whether the relationship is by half or whole blood
- A marriage between an uncle and a niece or between an aunt and a nephew, whether the relationship is of half or whole blood, except as to marriages permitted by the established customs of aboriginal cultures
- A marriage that was void by the law of the place where such marriage was contracted
||The U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Obergefell v. Hodges established that bans on same-sex marriage violated the Fourteenth Amendment's equal protection clause, legalizing same-sex marriage in every state, including Colorado.
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
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Related Resources: Annulment and Prohibited Marriage Laws
Next Steps: Speak to a Family Law Attorney
If you are considering annulling your marriage or have questions regarding its legitimacy, you should speak to a local divorce attorney. An experienced attorney can view the specific facts of your separation and give legal advice using the relevant laws of your jurisdiction as guidance.
Get started by speaking to a local family law attorney today.