Britney 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 →