What is an Annulment and will it jeopardize my status as green card holder?
An annulment (legally known as a “declaration of invalidity of marriage” in Colorado) is a rather uncommon proceeding. An annulment is almost identical to a divorce except for the result of an annulment is a legal finding that the marriage never occurred. The immigration implications of an annulment finding (thereby ruling that the marriage legally never occurred) are catastrophic and often include revocation of your green card and deportation.
What are the legal grounds required for an annulment? Colo. Rev. Stat. § 14-10-111 provides the criterion:
(a) A party lacked capacity to consent to the marriage at the time the marriage was solemnized, either because of mental incapacity or infirmity or because of the influence of alcohol, drugs, or other incapacitating substances.
(b) A party lacked the physical capacity to consummate the marriage by sexual intercourse, and the other party did not at the time the marriage was solemnized know of the incapacity.
(c) A party was under the age as provided by law and did not have the consent of his parents or guardian or judicial approval as provided by law.
(d) One party entered into the marriage in reliance upon a fraudulent act or representation of the other party, which fraudulent act or representation goes to the essence of the marriage.
(e) One or both parties entered into the marriage under duress exercised by the other party or a third party, whether or not such other party knew of such exercise of duress.
(f) One or both parties entered into the marriage as a jest or dare.
(g) The marriage is prohibited by law,
The most common ground used in immigration contexts is letter (d) fraud. In order to for the opposition to win on fraud grounds is to show 1) a fraudulent act or representation occurred 2) the opposing party relied upon that fraudulent act or representation and 3) that fraudulent act or representation went to the essence of the marriage.
The opposing party has the burden of proving all of those elements. It will usually be an uphill battle for them to prove all the grounds for an annulment but because the stakes are incredibly high make sure you secure representation.
This type of case will require a law firm, like Muhaisen & Muhaisen, LLC, that is experienced in the intersectionality of family and immigration law. If you have any questions or have an annulment case, please fill out a contact form and we will be in touch within 24-hours.