What is an Annulment?

An annulment is a decree from the court that means your marriage never legally existed.  Most of the time, people who are seeking to end their marriage will get a divorce rather than an annulment.  A decree of divorce dissolves, or terminates, an otherwise legal marriage.  An annulment means the marriage was never valid in the first place.

What are the Grounds For an Annulment?

In order to be eligible for an annulment, you need to prove there is a legal reason to treat your marriage as though it was never valid.  Utah law allows the following legal grounds for annulment:

  • Fraud – this means one spouse lied about something that was an important reason the couple got married.
  • Incest – this means the spouses are related, typically first cousins.
  • Underage – this means one or both of the spouses was too young to be married.
  • Bigamy – this means one of the spouses was already in another marriage at the time the couple was married.
  • Misrepresentation – this is similar to fraud. It basically means that one spouse lies about certain facts harmful to the other spouse.
  • Impotence – this means one of the spouses is not able to consummate the relationship.

Annulments are Rarely Granted

It is difficult to get an annullment in Utah. People often think that they would like an annulment because their soon-to-be ex-spouse committed fraud or misrepresentation. But the likely result will be a divorce rather than an annulment.  The fraud required for an annulment must be sufficient that, had the other spouse known about it, he or she would have not agreed to be married at all.

What happens to children of an annulled marriage?

Even if a marriage is annulled, the judge will still enter rulings involving child custody, visitation/parent-time, child support, alimony, and property division. This is another reason why many people will seek a divorce even if there may be some grounds for an annulment.


For additional information on divorce related topics, visit our family law page or our frequently asked questions section.