Utah law allows marriages to be ended by divorce or annulment. This article explains the difference between an annulment and a divorce. This article also explains how to get an annulment in Utah, and the effects of an annulment.
Ask a local family law attorney if you have other questions after reading this article. It's also helpful to contact the district court clerk's office in your county to see if they have forms you can use or offer other assistance.
Most marriages that end are terminated through a divorce, which means a valid marriage existed at one point, but has been dissolved. Certain marriages can be terminated by an annulment, which means the marriage never legally existed. If your marriage was invalid from the beginning under Utah law, your marriage may be eligible to be annulled.
You'll need to prove a legal "ground" (reason) to have a marriage annulled in Utah. Utah has the following legal grounds for annulment:
Things you should know about some of these grounds:
It's difficult to get a marriage annulled for fraud in Utah. The fraud must be extreme enough that the other spouse wouldn't have gotten married if that spouse knew about the fraud. If a spouse wants an annulment for fraud, the fraud must be directly related to the marriage.
The legal age for marriage in Utah is 18; 16 with a parent's consent, or 15 with a parent's consent and court permission. A marriage won't be annulled in Utah for a spouse being underage if the spouse had the proper consent at the time of marriage. A parent or guardian can file for annulment on the underage spouse's behalf. The court can still refuse to grant an annulment for an underage spouse if the judge believes it is in the spouse's best interest to stay married.
In order for misrepresentation to provide sufficient grounds to annul a marriage in Utah, it has to be misrepresentation of present facts. For example, in one Utah case, a husband hid a criminal record and told his wife he had to pay child support when in fact, he was spending their money on fines and restitution; his wife was granted an annulment.
You request an annulment by filling a "Complaint for Annulment" in the district court of the county where either you or your spouse has lived for at least 90 days. The spouse filing for annulment is the "petitioner" and the other spouse is the "respondent." Ask your district court clerk's office if it has a sample forms you can use to file for annulment. See the "Resources" section below for a link to contact information for all Utah district courts.
Your complaint should give the full names for you and your spouse, as well as any minor children (under 18). You'll need to state which spouse lives in the county where you're filing. State the legal grounds for your annulment. Be sure to list all the things you need the court to address, such as child custody, visitation, child support, alimony, and property division. Ask your district court's clerk's office how to serve a copy of the complaint on your spouse.
Once your complaint has been filed and served on your spouse, the court will schedule a hearing. Bring any evidence or witnesses that can help prove your grounds for annulment to the hearing. If the judge believes you've proven your case, the judge will sign an order annulling your marriage.
An annulment means your marriage never existed. You were never legally married to your spouse once the marriage is annulled.
Even so, the judge can still decide the same issues during an annulment case as during a divorce: custody, visitation, child support, alimony, and property division.
Children of annulled marriages are considered legitimate, meaning they have the same rights as children from valid marriages. Legitimate children can inherit from either parent and have the right to be financially supported by both parents.
To read the full text of Utah law on annulment, see Title 30, Chapter 1 of the Utah Code.
A map and contact information for all the Utah district courts is here.