Options for Changing Your Marriage Status
ANNULMENT OF MARRIAGE
Navigating your options for changing your marriage status is never easy. In this post, we cover the basic components of annulment, legal separation, or divorce for couples seeking to better understand their options.
Annulment is the legal finding that a marriage was never valid from the start. For the most part, annulments are requested within a few weeks or months from when the marriage occurred but these can also happen further into the marriage. A legal annulment is not to be confused with a religious annulment and it voids the legal relationship between to individuals. Annulments in Arizona are granted when circumstances exist that would invalidate the marriage. To grant the annulment, the court must come to the conclusion that invalid or voidable grounds exist. Some of these invalid or voidable examples are the following:
• A marriage between two people who are blood relatives such as: full and half-blood siblings; grandparent-grandchild, nephew/niece-aunt/uncle, and first cousins would be considered an invalid marriage from the beginning; in spite of that, legal action is still required to legally establish its invalidity.
• Bigamy: One of the spouses has a prior marriage that is still in effect
• Fraud, coercion, or threats
• A spouse was underage at the time of the marriage and did not have parental/guardian consent.
• Marriage was entered upon while one or both parties were intoxicated
• Lack of an official marriage license
• A party to the marriage conceals a criminal past or has a communicable disease
• A spouse refuses to have intercourse or inability to consummate marriage
• Misrepresentation of religion by one or both spouses
• Lack of mental/physical capacity by one or both of the parties
• Marriage did not occur in person but rather through proxy
• One of the spouses intended to evade a premarital agreement
• And any other grounds that the court will find as admissible for invalidating a marriage
What is the process for getting an annulment?
The spouse/party asking for the annulment (Petitioner) would need to file a petition for annulment with the Arizona Superior Court and the Respondent would then file a response. The filing party must have lived in Arizona for more than 90 days. Adhering to rules for service of process must be followed and other processes may be necessary if financial and custodial implications are involved.
A legal separation is when spouses establish a division of assets and child custody but remain married. A legal separation may help couples who who wish to remain on each other’s employer sponsored insurance plans because both parties are still considered married for the purposes of continuing health insurance coverage. A legal separation (with or without children) must also be filled with the Arizona Superior Court and the Petitioner must provide proof that the Respondent does not object to the Decree of Legal Separation. Reasons why spouses decide to pursue a legal separation range from religious prohibition, you have been married for less than ten years and wish to receive your spouses’ social security benefits, and/or want to continue receiving your spouses’ health insurance coverage. Under a legal separation, spouses cannot remarry as they are still legally married. However, income earned and debt incurred is considered separate property, no longer marital property.
What is the process for getting a legal separation?
In Arizona, to be eligible for a legal separation, one of the spouses must live in Arizona or be stationed in Arizona while a member of the armed forces. In contrast to a divorce, a legal separation does not require that one of the parties have lived in Arizona for a specified period of time.
In the case where one spouse files for legal separation but the other spouse wants a divorce, the court must grant the divorce because Arizona is a no-fault state. In a legal separation just like in divorce, if the couple has children, the parents and the court have to finalize legal decision-making and parenting time. Spousal and child support as well as debts and assets of the married couple are part of the court’s responsibilities in a legal separation.
Converting a legal separation into a divorce is possible if the petition for divorce is filed under the same case number as the legal separation.
Divorce is a legal termination of a marriage contract. Arizona as a no-fault divorce state means that the spouse filling (Petitioner) does not have to prove that the other spouse (Respondent) has done something wrong to disrupt the marriage. The divorce only needs one spouse to affirm that they no longer wish to be married regardless of whether or not the other party wishes to remain married. A divorce is not final until the court issues a divorce decree which is the final order for the dissolution of marriage- ending the marriage contract. Either spouse can file for dissolution of marriage (with or without children) as long as they have lived in Arizona for the past 90 days be stationed in Arizona while a member of the armed forces. The petition must also be filed with the Arizona Superior Court in the county respective to where the spouses live.
What is the process for getting a divorce?
The filing spouse (Petitioner) files the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage in Superior Court in the county (respective to the person petitioning resides) and one copy of all the paperwork must be served on the non-filing spouse (Respondent) known as service of process. If Respondent lives in Arizona, they may file a Response to the Petition within 20 days from the date of service or 30 days if Respondent lives outside the state. After the 20 or 30-day period, there is a 60-day waiting period after the service of court papers before the court may grant the dissolution. If either party disagrees on a particular issue involving the divorce such as legal-decision making, spousal maintenance, division of assets, etc., it may be necessary for a judge to make the decision for the couple.
A Decree of Dissolution of Marriage will:
• Terminate the marriage
• Determine legal decision-making, parenting time and child support
• Establish spousal maintenance, if any
• Divide up property acquired during the marriage, and affirm property owned prior to the marriage
• Appoint responsibility for debts incurred during the marriage, and affirm debts owned prior to marriage
• Restore the last name of a requesting spouse, if requested
Let us help you with your legal document preparation for annulment, legal separation, or divorce. The Divorce Guy has experience preparing documents for court proceedings specific to the laws of Arizona. By using our services, you will avoid high priced attorney fees meanwhile focusing on using your financial resources to better help your family make the necessary transitions after your legal separation/divorce. With us, you will not have to worry about deadlines or properly completing forms as we have the experience and knowledge of how to help you navigate this process. Contact our office in Tucson today where you will find that we are committed to walking you through this process. (520) 327-1085