Articles Posted in Annulment

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marriage annuledBritney Spears married Jason Alexander in Las Vegas in 2004, and had the marriage annulled just 55 hours later. Nicolas Cage wed Erika Koike in the same town, and filed to have their marriage annulled shortly thereafter. These whirlwind romances make the headlines, but what about the average couple who seeks to annul their marriage? Is it as simple as it looks? A local divorce attorney can answer this and other questions related to the topic. 

Getting a Marriage Annulled in California

The grounds for annulment are much more complex than the grounds for divorce. Simply being unhappy in the marriage, which constitutes irreconcilable differences in a divorce filing, will not fly here. There are a limited number of specific reasons that are allowed to justify a marriage annulment in this state, including:

  • Blood relationship: Spouses who are closely related by blood is not a legal union;
  • Bigamy: If one of the spouses is currently legally married to someone else, the marriage is not legal;
  • Youth: If one spouse was 17 or younger, annulment is possible;
  • Fraud: If the marriage was entered into in a fraudulent manner by one or both spouses, it may be annulled;
  • Unsound mind: If a mental condition—including intoxication—contributed to the marriage, it may be annulled;
  • Force: If one spouse was compelled to marry the other, it may be annulled;
  • Physical incapacity: If one partner suffers from an incurable condition that impedes sexual activity, the marriage may be annulled.

Statute of Limitations

Depending on the grounds for the marriage annulment, the time limit varies. While most circumstances carry a four-year limit, unsound mind and bigamy are grounds that may be filed at any time, as long as both spouses are still living.

How to Get a Marriage Annulment

Once legal grounds for a marriage annulment are established, the process for an annulment is relatively uncomplicated in many cases:

  • Petition by making “nullify” on a divorce petition;
  • Provide relevant documentation to support your petition and information relating to children who have been a product of the marriage;
  • Complete additional forms required by the local jurisdiction;
  • File forms/documents with the local county clerk;
  • Make your case at a hearing before a judge. It will be necessary to prove that you have firm grounds for annulment, so bring documentation, witnesses, affidavits, etc. to support your case.
After Being Granted an Annulment

When your marriage is annulled, the court confirms that the marriage essentially was never valid.  That means you will not be subject to rules relating to community property or spousal support except in limited circumstances when putative partner status is established, which entails more legal wrangling. If there are children involved, the judge will have to determine paternity in order to make child custody, visitation, and support orders. Continue reading →

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AnnulmentAnnulment versus divorce. Divorce makes many people wish they could erase their marriage altogether. The fact is that some individuals actually can. In specific circumstances, couples may seek an annulment, which essentially pronounces that what had previously been considered by all to be a marriage never existed at all. This unique legal maneuver requires the assistance of an experienced family law attorney.

Who Qualifies for an Annulment?

Legal annulment is not available to just anyone. Grounds for annulment are quite explicit:

  • When the partners are closely related by blood;
  • When one partner is engaging in bigamy (is already married to someone else).
  • When the marriage occurred prior to the eighteenth birthday of one or both of the individuals;
  • If the marriage was based on a fraud, meaning one person misled another to convince them to marry;
  • If one spouse suffers an incurable physical incapacity, or is unable to engage in sexual relations;
  • When one or both individuals is of unsound mind, meaning he or she is incapable of understanding the responsibilities and overall nature of marriage;
  • If one person forced the other into the marriage.

Statute of Limitations for an Annulment

The law does have timelines to file for annulment, depending on the reason for the request:

  • Bigamy: You can file at any time;
  • Age: If you married prior to your eighteenth birthday, you must file within four years after turning 18;
  • Fraud: You must file within four years of ascertaining the fraud;
  • Physical Incapacity: You must file within four years of the marriage;
  • Unsound Mind: You can file any time;
  • Forced Marriage: If you were forced into the marriage, you must file within four years.

What About the Children?

Just as the marriage is erased, the legal presumption of paternity for your children is removed in annulment, as well. Therefore, the judge must grant parentage. The court will also establish custody, visitation, and child support parameters.

Division of Assets

Since you will legally never have been married, you will not be able to take advantage of California’s Community Property laws. Likewise, you will not be entitled to your partner’s pension, retirement benefits, or any form of spousal support or alimony.

Punitive Spouse Status

In certain rare cases, you may be able to prove that you believed the marriage to be legal under California law, and you may be able to argue that you are entitled to typical marriage assets and support. Continue reading →

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Divorce, Annulment or Legal SeparationMarried couples who have chosen to part ways may wonder about their options. Most people are not aware of the differences between divorce, annulment, and legal separation.

Annulment

An annulment is when a court says your marriage is not legally valid. Annulments are rare, and can only be granted by a judge. Unlike a divorce, an annulment treats the marriage as if it never occurred. A marriage is always considered invalid if it is incestuous or bigamous (marriage to more than one person). Marriages may also be annulled if the marriage occurred due to force or fraud, if one of the spouses is too young to marry or already married, or if there is physical or mental incapacity. Similar to a divorce, the judge presiding over the annulment may determine issues of child custody, child support, alimony, and division of assets.

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Family Law - Annulment Small.jpgWhen parties in Northern California are considering a divorce, sometimes they question whether they can get an “annulment”. Under very specific and limited circumstances, parties can request a California court to declare their marriage null and void.

For the court to grant a judgment of nullity the must determine that the marriage was either void or voidable. Under the Family Code, a marriage is void from the beginning when the marriage involves either incest or when a marriage is entered into while either party is married to another person. In the later situation, the marriage is usually bigamous and void from the beginning.

A party who mistakenly believes their spouse to be deceased can have a marriage deemed void if for 5 successive years immediately preceding the marriage, the party’s spouse had been absent and not known to the party to be living or at the time the marriage was entered into, the party’s spouse was generally reputed or believed by the party to be dead.

Under the Family Code, when a marriage is void, it is void from the beginning, technically meaning that no marriage has occurred. However, this does not mean that a party should not obtain a judgment of nullity, because depending on the circumstances, a party may want a public record of their marital status. Furthermore, in specific circumstances, a party to a void marriage may be entitled to assert property and support rights as though the marriage had been valid and the parties may also address issues of custody, visitation, and child support in a nullity action.
On the other hand, a voidable marriage is valid until it is declared void and judicially declared a nullity. A marriage is voidable when a spouse was a minor and lacked the ability of consent; a spouse had an unsound mind at the time of marriage; consent was gained through fraud or force; or a spouse is physically incapable of entering into the marriage.
In situations of minority, a marriage is voidable if, at the time of the marriage, the petitioner was under age 18 and the requisite parental and court consents were not obtained. Nullity based on unsound mind occurs when either party is incapable of understanding the nature of the marriage contract and the duties and responsibilities it creates at the time of the marriage ceremony. Seeking an annulment on the basis of fraud will require the court to determine that the consent to enter into the marriage was obtained by false representations relating to a matter of substance that go to the very essence of the marital relation.

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