FindLaw KnowledgeBasePublished: 2012-11-19
More people in America would probably consider running for government office if it didn’t open them up to such intense personal scrutiny. For example, speculation about the 1999 annulment of Arizona 2nd Congressional District candidate Martha McSally’s two-year marriage surfaced in the media during her 2012 election run.
Reportedly, McSally and her family law attorney traveled almost 100 miles from Tucson to another county in Arizona to file for annulment from McSally’s fellow-Air-Force-officer husband. Annulment can cause a raised eyebrow, as it is relatively uncommon in modern society.
What is annulment?
Usually marriages legally end in divorce, but in certain circumstances annulment is the appropriate option. A marriage can be annulled in court when the marriage is legally void or voidable. In essence, an annulment is a public pronouncement by a court that a marriage really never legally existed, that it was not ever valid from its beginning.
This differs from divorce, which terminates what was always recognized as a valid marriage.
Civil annulment as granted by a court of law differs from traditional religious annulment. For example, a church may grant an annulment in recognition that a particular marriage was never valid in the eyes of the church. However, annulment from a church does not annul the marriage legally.
Arizona annulment law
Arizona law gives the state superior court the power to annul a marriage as “null and void” when an “impediment” to legal marriage exists. Legal impediments may include:
- Parties are close blood relatives
- Parties are the same gender
- Mental or physical incapacity
- No valid marriage license
- One party already in a valid marriage
- Refusal of or inability to have physical intimacy
- Marriage not performed by person authorized by law like a clergyman or judge
In an Arizona annulment case, the court will determine matters of child custody and child support, and division of certain narrow categories of property.
Anyone who doubts the validity of his or her marriage or who recognizes his or her own marriage in the legal impediments listed above should speak with an experienced Arizona family law attorney. Your lawyer can explain your legal status and rights and explore with you whether an annulment may be the best idea in your circumstances.