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.
Many clients have similar initial questions, so we’ve answered a few of our more frequently asked questions below.
Yes, California law allows for a divorce as long as one party wants to end the marriage. There is still a legal process that must be followed, however. One spouse must petition the court for divorce and serve notice to the other. Six months after divorce papers have been filed and served, a judge can then rule to dissolve the marriage.
Divorce in California takes a minimum of seven months because you will need at least one month to compile the necessary paperwork and agree to terms. The courts then require you to wait six months before the divorce becomes final. Any disagreements, especially regarding child custody and property division, can extend this timeframe substantially.
The judge is required to make a custody ruling in the best interests of the children. Demonstrating your involvement in their life and the stability you offer is helpful, as is staying in the family home and living in their school district. Preserving the bond the child has with both parents and keeping their routine as consistent as possible is something that most judges value.
Typically, yes. In California, property you owned prior to getting married is considered separate and should revert to you in a divorce. However, this can get complicated if you and your spouse were living in or on the property during the marriage.
Hiring a family law attorney is your best option. An attorney can complete discovery by submitting interrogatories to be completed by your spouse or by conducting depositions. In a deposition, your spouse will be asked questions under oath where lying would be a crime. A financial forensic audit might also be necessary.
Before child support can be calculated, custody will first need to be determined and both of your incomes proven. After the judge determines how much time the children will spend with each of you, a determination of child support to be paid to the custodial parent will also be made.
While still married and not separated, any contract or debt taken on by your spouse will also be your responsibility. Additionally, the extra time spent married could negatively affect the division of certain assets.
When hiring a family lawyer, you want someone who will be invested in you—not someone who treats you like a case number. You also want to make certain that your attorney has experience and knows how to get the results you need. Your consultation can give you a good measure of both of these criteria if you ask the right questions.