At the Law Office of Laurence J. Brock, we realize that there is more than one way to end a relationship. Married couples sometimes wonder whether they can annul the marriage or if they need to get divorced. The answer to this can be complicated, so it is often best to speak with an experienced Rancho Cucamonga Annulment Lawyer. The first thing we’ll need to do is determine if you meet the qualifying factors for an annulment.
An annulment is essentially erasing your marriage or domestic partnership by saying that the marriage contract was never legal to begin with—and therefore it did not exist. The two conditions where a marriage is absolutely legally invalid are in the cases of incest and bigamy.
A marriage can be considered invalid and qualify for annulment if one of the parties was under eighteen at the time, one party was still legally married to someone else, one person was mentally unsound, the marriage took place due to physical force or fear of harm, or one party was unable to consummate the relationship physically. The gray area for annulment comes into play in cases of fraud. This is more difficult to prove but often the cause of one person wanting an annulment in the first place.
You can get divorced at any time. However, in California, you have a limited number of years to file for an annulment before you no longer qualify for doing so. The statute of limitations is based on the reason why you want an annulment. For example, if you were under the age of eighteen, you must file within four years after turning eighteen (i.e., by the time you are twenty-two years old). The four-year time constraint also applies to force, fraud, and not being able to consummate the marriage. It can be filed at any time in the event that there is a prior spouse or one party is mentally unsound. If you aren’t certain where your case falls, a Rancho Cucamonga annulment lawyer from our office can make the determination for you.
Proving grounds for an annulment can be difficult, making getting a divorce far more common. If there is no religious or other compelling reason to get an annulment, you may want to simply proceed with a divorce instead. You can claim at any time that the relationship is ending due to irreconcilable differences.
You should be warned that if you do receive an annulment, it is truly as if your marriage never happened. That means you do not have any of the benefits provided to divorcing couples. You cannot seek spousal support or division of assets because you would never have been legally entitled to them in the first place. Getting divorced still ends the marriage, but it gives you the opportunity to share in assets and receive financial support. There are some exceptions for those who thought their marriage was legal, but this is complicated and should be discussed on a case-by-case basis with your Rancho Cucamonga annulment lawyer.
In both cases, a petition must be filed with the court. If your request for an annulment is denied, you can change your request to a legal separation or divorce. In both cases, a Rancho Cucamonga annulment lawyer from our office will continue to assist you with the new process.
If you do get an annulment, any children born during the course of your marriage are not considered to be a product of a marriage. In other words, parentage must be legally established for the father to have paternal rights and also for the father to be required to pay child support. Both parties must be aware of this and understand that if the annulment does take place, there is an additional legal step that must be taken to finalize everything concerning children. A Rancho Cucamonga annulment lawyer from our firm can more fully explain these scenarios and what is required during your consultation.
To find out whether you should file for an annulment or a divorce, speak with a Rancho Cucamonga annulment lawyer. At The Law Office of Laurence J. Brock, we can sit down and discuss your specific situation and identify the best way for you to dissolve your relationship while still protecting your rights. To schedule a consultation call, 909-466-7661 or contact us by completing the form at the bottom of this page.