May 28, 2020

How is an annulment different from a divorce?

Annulments in California can only be approved under very specific circumstances. The California Family Court system only allows annulments in cases where the marriage is considered “void” or “voidable” – legal definitions with very stringent criteria.

Unless your marriage falls under one of these two strict terms, a legal separation or divorce may be the only option available to you.

To find out if your marriage is void or voidable and proceed in nullifying it, it is advised that you speak with a qualified Rancho Cucamonga annulment lawyer with a background in family law.

Voidable Marriage

A voidable marriage is one considered valid until a California Family Law judge / arbitrator rules otherwise. If your marriage falls under one of the following categories, it could be considered “voidable” under California law.

  • Fraud: A marriage in which consent was acquired fraudulently can be considered voidable. The fraud must be significant – However, the marriage is no longer considered voidable if the spouse who was deceived continues to live with his/her partner after learning of the fraudulent activity.
  • Mental Impairment / Unsound Mind: If either spouse is found to be of unsound mind at the inception of the marriage – that is, lacking the mental wherewithal to grasp the conditions and obligations of marriage – the marriage is considered voidable.This can include being intoxicated at the time of marriage. But like other voidable marriage scenarios, if the spouse(s) continue to freely cohabitate after “coming to reason” then the marriage is no longer considered voidable.
  • Minority: If either spouse enters into a marriage as a minor (i.e. under the age of 18) and fails to obtain written legal consent – either from their parents or the California courts – then the marriage is considered voidable. If the spouse who married as a minor reaches adulthood and continues to live/cohabitate with their spouse then the marriage can no longer be considered voidable.
  • Physical Incapacity: If either spouse is physically incapable of consummating the marriage and the condition is assessed to be incurable/unchangeable, then the marriage is considered voidable.
  • Marriage By Force: If a party is coerced by force to enter into a marriage it is considered voidable.

Void Marriage

A void marriage or domestic partnership is considered as never having been valid under California Family Law. For all intents and purposes, the marriage is seen as having never existed in the eyes of the courts.

For a marriage to be considered void, it must fall under one of the following categories.

  • The Marriage Contract Is Not Lawful: A marriage that doesn’t satisfy the requirements outlined in Family Code 300(a) and 306 is not considered valid and considered void under California state law. The most common instance of this is failure to obtain a marriage license.
  • Bigamy: If a spouse enters a marriage while still married to another individual, the subsequent marriage will be considered void. An exception may only be granted in the case that, at the time of the second marriage, the former spouses whereabouts are unknown for a period of five (5) years prior to the subsequent marriage or is generally presumed to be deceased at the time of the subsequent marriage.
  • Incest : A marriage cannot exist and is considered void if it is by and between:
    • Siblings
    • Parents and their offspring
    • Ancestors and descendants of any degree

Essentially any blood relation (half-blood or otherwise) is seen as invalid by the courts and would be considered void.

Speak With an Annulment Lawyer in Rancho Cucamonga

Because of the limited circumstances in which a marriage can be legally annulled, as well as the time-sensitive cohabitation clauses of “voidable” marriages, it is recommended you speak with a qualified Rancho Cucamonga annulment attorney at your earliest convenience.

The Law Office of Laurence J. Brock is both experienced and qualified to review your annulment claim. If you need help identifying whether your marriage satisfies the “void” or “voidable” marriage criteria and/or want to proceed with an annulment, call us at (909) 466-7661 or use our online contact form.

Because of the sensitive nature regarding the circumstances of annulments, our experienced attorneys will handle your case with the utmost discretion and professionalism.

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