Marriage is a sacred union binding two people together, symbolizing a commitment to love, support, and share their lives. However, there are times when a marriage may prove untenable or legally invalid, leading individuals to seek an annulment rather than a divorce.
Obtaining an annulment in California is not a straightforward process, as it requires meeting specific criteria and following a distinct set of guidelines. In this article, we’ll discuss the grounds on which an annulment can be granted in California.
What is an annulment?
An annulment is a legal process that declares a marriage to be void, essentially treating it as though it never legally existed. It aims to restore the parties involved to their pre-marital status, erasing the legal consequences that arise from marriage.
An annulment is not a remedy available for every unsuccessful or short-lived marriage. Instead, it is reserved for specific situations where the marriage can be proven to have been fundamentally flawed or legally invalid.
What’s the difference between divorce and annulment?
In a divorce, the law recognizes the marriage as valid, and the process involves the termination of a legally recognized union. A divorce legally ends a valid marriage and addresses issues such as property division, spousal support, child custody, and visitation rights. It recognizes the existence of a marital relationship and seeks to provide a fair and equitable resolution for the parties involved.
An annulment, on the other hand, treats the marriage as though it never legally existed. It declares the marriage to be void or voidable, usually due to specific legal defects or circumstances that existed at the time of the marriage. As a result, an annulled marriage carries fewer legal consequences compared to a divorce, and the division of property and financial matters may be treated differently compared to a divorce.
When can you get an annulment in California?
Under California law, there are various grounds upon which an annulment can be granted.
A void marriage is considered legally invalid from the beginning, and no legal annulment proceeding is necessary. In California, examples of void marriages are incestuous or bigamous marriages.
Voidable marriages are considered legally valid until an annulment is sought and granted. The following grounds may render a marriage voidable in California:
- Age: If both parties were under the age of 18 at the time of marriage without parental consent
- Prior existing marriage: If one party was already married at the time of the marriage
- Lack of consent: Due to fraud, force, or physical/mental incapacity
- Unsound mind: If one party lacked the mental capacity to understand the nature of the marriage
- Fraud or misrepresentation: If one party deceived the other regarding a crucial aspect of the marriage
- Force: If a marriage occurred under duress or coercion, it may be deemed voidable
How to file for annulment
The first step toward marriage annulment is to ensure you make the deadline for annulment based on the statute of limitations. At Lonich Polich Ehrlich Policastri, we have dedicated experts who can help you navigate the complexities of filing for annulment in California.
Disclaimer: This article does not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter.