Annulment in Wyoming vs. Divorce

Image of documents issued upon annulment of divorce in Wyoming

According to Wyoming family laws, marriage annulments are granted when the court determines that the marriage is void or voidable. Void marriages are considered invalid from the beginning, while voidable marriages are considered valid until annulled. The most common reasons for annulment include bigamy, lack of capacity, fraud, or lack of consent.

The important distinction between an annulment and a divorce lies in the fact of marriage legitimacy. The judge can grant an annulment if a marriage is invalid, as if it never existed. Divorce, on the other hand, is the ending of a valid marriage by a court decision, returning spouses to single status with the ability to marry again.                           

What Happens When You Get an Annulment in Wyoming?

Marriage certificate being cut with scissors after annulment in Wyoming
Getting an annulment of marriage in Wyoming is generally more challenging than obtaining a divorce due to the need to prove specific legal grounds for annulment.

After the marriage is annulled, the parties are considered as never married. There are strict legal requirements for possible grounds for annulment and legal process.

Getting a marriage annulment involves the following steps:

  • Ensuring you meet residency requirements.
  • Preparing and filing court-approved forms for an annulment with a county clerk’s office.
  • Serving the petitioner with the necessary papers to notify them of the lawsuit and providing proof of service to the court.
  • Resolving property division and child-related issues, like custody and support, if minor children are involved, and going through family counseling if required.
  • Scheduling and attending a hearing where the judge makes a decision on annulment based on evidence provided and decides on contested issues between spouses, if any.
  • Finalizing the process and receiving a Decree of Annulment after the court declares the marriage invalid.

If you have doubts about the legitimacy of your marriage and consider an annulment, it is reasonable to contact a family law attorney for guidance.

The state laws do not recognize common law marriage in Wyoming, meaning local courts will not treat your marriage as legal if you have lived together for some time without officially registering your marital relations. Therefore, you cannot end such a marriage through an annulment procedure or a divorce in court.                                                

Legal Grounds for Annulment vs. Divorce                                     

Judge's gavel in Wyoming divorce case
Establishing legal grounds for divorce is typically less stringent than proving grounds for annulment in Wyoming.

Since annulment and divorce are separate legal processes, the grounds for initiating them are significantly different.

According to W.Y. Stat. § 20-2-101, couples can get an annulment in Wyoming if:

  • either spouse already has a husband or wife living at the time of getting married again;
  • either party was mentally incompetent when the marriage was registered;
  • spouses are close blood relatives such as siblings, children and parents, first cousins, etc.;
  • either spouse did not reach the age of 16 at the time of marriage;
  • either party was under the age of consent but the judge gave consent to the marriage, and then spouses separated during nonage and did not live together after they turned 18;
  • consent of either spouse was obtained by force or fraud;
  • either spouse is physically incapacitated, and the other party was unaware of that.

If parties are minors or mentally incompetent, their parents or guardians may submit a complaint to the court asking for a marriage annulment.

Under W.Y. Stat. § 20-2-104 and W.Y. Stat. § 20-2-105, acceptable grounds for divorce in Wyoming are:

  • irreconcilable differences between spouses;
  • incurable insanity of one spouse, provided they have been confined to a mental hospital for at least two years by the time the complaint for divorce was filed with the court.

Timing of an Annulment vs. Divorce in Wyoming

The annulment process can last from several months to several years, depending on whether spouses have enough evidence or witness statements to prove their claims and whether there are disagreements regarding child custody, division of property, etc.

If you wonder how long after a marriage you can get an annulment, it will depend on your case and grounds. For example, according to W.Y. Stat. § 20-2-101, the annulment based on physical incapacity may be granted by the court only within two years after marriage registration.

Spouses can get a divorce no earlier than in 20 days after filing a complaint with the court. How long the divorce process will last depends on whether the case is contested. Uncontested divorces can be finalized in 1-3 months, on average, while contested ones can take from several months to a year or more.

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