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Colorado Annulment and Prohibited Marriage Laws

Today, annulments are rare, but are still legal a legal option distinct from divorce. If an annulment is granted, it’s like the marriage never happened, it’s nullified. You get a do-over. 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. For example, if a child gets married without the permission of his or her parents or guardians, ten years later when both spouses are adults and they have three children together, it would be unfair to claim the marriage wasn’t valid due to that small defect.

The table below outlines Colorado annulment and prohibited marriage laws.

Code Sections Colorado Revised Statutes Section 14-10-111: Declaration of (Marriage) Invalidity, 14-2-110: Prohibited Marriage, and 18-6-301: Incest
Grounds for Annulment The grounds for annulment in Colorado are:

  • No consent due to mental incapacity, intoxication, or drug use of one or both parties
  • One of the parties was underage
  • The marriage was entered into as a joke or a dare
  • One party entered the marriage under duress
  • One party married due to a fraudulent act by the other party
  • Physical incapacity to consummate marriage (impotence)
  • The marriage was bigamous
Time Limits for Obtaining Annulment The time limit to get an annulment depends on the reason for the annulment.
  • 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 condition
  • Two Years – Underage and lacked 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.
Prohibited Marriages Cases when a marriage is prohibited:

  • Bigamy, that is, a prior marriage is still valid when you or your spouse attempted to remarry
  • Marriage between close relatives (brother & sister, uncle & niece, etc. except for those permitted by established indigenous customs)
  • Marriage was void in the place where the marriage was entered into
Same-Sex Marriages Same-sex marriages are now legal in Colorado. On October 6, 2014, the Supreme Court decided not to hear two same-sex marriage cases out of Utah and Oklahoma that decided denying same-sex couples the freedom to marry is unconstitutional. As Colorado is in the same federal 10th circuit as Utah and Oklahoma, same-sex marriage bans are unconstitutional there as well.
Common Law Marriages Although many states don’t recognize common law marriages, Colorado does. A common law marriage exists in Colorado, as long as a couple:

  • Are both over 18 years old
  • Mutually agree to live as a married couple
  • Mutually and openly assume a marital relationship

Note: State laws change frequently, so it’s important to confirm the accuracy of the laws you’re researching by conducting your own legal research or contacting an experienced Colorado family law attorney.

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