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Annulments basics

Dear Clients and Friends,

In California an annulment is by statute referred to as: Nullity of Marriage. 

Marriage-ending legal proceedings generally have strict rules regarding who they apply to and what circumstances they cover.

Annulments and divorces are similar in the sense that they make a determination about marital status. The difference between them is that a divorce ends an existing, valid marriage, while an annulment declares that what everyone thought was a marriage was never legally so. In the eyes of the law an annulled marriage never existed.

In California, the grounds that a judge may consider in granting a request to annul a marriage are:

-The parties are related by blood.

-One spouse was already married before entering into the second marriage (bigamy).

-The person requesting the annulment was not eighteen years of age at the time of the marriage.

-Either spouse perpetrated a fraud to obtain the other party’s consent to marriage. The fraud has to go to the heart, or essence, of the marriage. A good example would be when one spouse persuades the other to marry because of a secret desire to remain in the United States.

-One of the spouses has an “incurable physical incapacity.” This typically refers to male impotence that prevents the couple from having sexual relations.

-One or both spouses is of “unsound mind” (a mental condition that prevents them from understanding and appreciating the nature and duties of marriage—including severe intoxication).

-One spouse forced the other to get married.

A California annulment matter typically requires a court hearing. The hearing cannot take place until at least 30 days after the other party received the annulment papers. During the 30-day period, the other spouse has an opportunity to file responsive papers. At the hearing, the judge may grant the annulment, and if granted also issue orders regarding spousal support, child custody, child visitation and/or property rights. Note that these orders will be made even if the other spouse declines to take part in the process.

Call us for a free phone evaluation of any family law issues you or yours may have.



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