Getting an annulment is a serious decision because, unlike divorce, it completely wipes away any sign that you were ever married. There are many rights that are given up during annulment, and as such, opting for one may not be as simple or as fruitful as a divorce.
There are specific and sometimes severely personal reasons for an annulment, and they all require strong proof to hold up in court in California. No matter your reason for pursuing an annulment over a divorce, you will have to be ready to meet the strict legal standards that are in place in California. Today, we will discuss how to pursue an annulment and the California state requirements to qualify for one.
How Does Annulment Differ from Divorce?
While a divorce is a legal termination of a valid marriage, an annulment is a declaration that the marriage never even existed. A couple who successfully obtains an annulment will get it dissolved, earning both parties a clean slate.
After you get a divorce, the law still recognizes the marriage as having existed but ended due to both parties dissolving the marriage in a court of law. Unlike a divorce, an annulment actually cancels the marriage, so the courts do not recognize you or your partner as ever being married and will officially deem records of your marriage as invalid.
Requirements for Getting an Annulment
Due to the serious nature of an annulment and the requirement that each partner has to give up rights that would be granted in a standard divorce (i.e. spousal support and division of property) the state of California takes granting annulments very seriously.
The state of California will automatically annul marriages where there is shown to be incest, where two relatives marry, or in cases of bigamy, where someone has married more than one person knowingly. No matter if all parties consented, these circumstances will automatically be annulled.
Otherwise, you will need to provide one of the following reasons to get an annulment:
If one party was under the age of 18 at the time of the marriage, he or she could get the marriage annulled.
Past Marriage Still Valid
If one of the parties is still in a legal marriage or domestic partnership with another person when they get married to the current spouse, the subsequent marriage will be considered void.
If one party believes they were deceived by the other somehow, they can file for an annulment. Examples of fraud include: a person claiming to be someone else or marrying to get a green card.
Coercing or forcing someone into marriage is illegal and can result in an annulment. Examples include issuing threats against family members, children, or the spouse themself.
Being of Unsound Mind
Both parties must be of sound mind to enter into a marriage. If it can be proved that one party was not of sound mind when they got married, the marriage can be annulled.
In general, you have four years from the date of the marriage to file for an annulment, but there are exceptions depending on the reason for the annulment. When someone seeks an annulment based on one of the above claims, they have to provide proof of their claim.
What Is the Process of Getting an Annulment in California?
The process for getting an annulment in California is quite similar to that of a divorce. Steps to getting an annulment in California include:
- Signing the petition. To start the process of getting an annulment in California you must complete Form FL-100. This is also the form to petition a divorce, so make sure to check the box for “nullify.”
- Declarations for Annulment. Make sure to have all information on both parties, date of the marriage you want annulled, why you are petitioning, and any additional information you feel necessary for your case. You must notify the court if there are any children from this marriage as well.
- Serve your spouse. Next you must serve your spouse with a copy of the petition. Working with a skilled attorney when seeking an annulment can make this process easier, especially if you are not on good terms with your spouse.
- Complete additional paperwork. Make sure to check with your local office to see if there are any additional forms you need to fill out or file. If children are involved, you will need to complete the Declaration Under Uniform Custody and Enforcement Act form.
- File with the clerk. To submit your petition for review, file it with the county clerk and pay all required filing fees.
- Attend a hearing. During your hearing make sure to explain to the judge why you are requesting the annulment. This will give you a chance to expound on your petition and also allows your spouse to object. After this step, you have only to wait for the judge’s decision.
Legal Expertise That Combines Knowledge and Compassion
We understand just how complex the divorce and annulment processes can be. Thankfully, our team of legal experts know what to expect and can guide you through the process, whether that means mediation or trial. More importantly, we understand the importance of listening.