While similar to Dissolution of Marriage (divorce) and legal separation, the key difference in annulment is that whomever is filing the Petition for Annulment must allege that there is or was an “impediment” to the marriage which “renders the marriage “void.” See ARS §25-301.
Many people believe annulment only applies if the marriage was not “consummated.” While failure to consummate the marriage may be a justification for annulment, there are additional justifications, including any “impediment” to the marriage. See ARS §25-302. Examples include a lack of “meeting of the minds.” Marriage is a contractual relationship, so if one spouse fails to disclose he/she is already married, fails to disclose substantial debt, is closely related to the other spouse by blood, is secretly failing to abide by a prenuptial agreement, misrepresents his or her religion, is mentally or physically handicapped to the extent that there can be no real contract, annulment may be appropriate. The above-list provides examples for “impediments” to marriage, but the list is hardly exhaustive.
Just as with divorce and legal separation, if a Petition for Annulment is filed, the Court will make orders concerning separate property and separate debt of the spouses, make determinations about any community liens on separate property , divide the community property and issue orders regarding minor child(ren), including legal decision-making, parenting time and child support. The Court may also consider whether a spouse is entitled to spousal maintenance (“alimony”) and whether one spouse should contribute to the payment of the other spouse’s attorney fees and costs or if each spouse should pay their own attorney fees and costs.
Legal annulment is not the same as religious annulment, although an annulment through the courts may be requested so a spouse is eligible for remarriage through a church or other place of worship.