How to Get an Annulment in California

how to get an annulmentAnnulments are different from divorce, and an experienced attorney can explain how to get an annulment in California. While divorce effectively ends a marriage, an annulment wipes away a marriage and makes it as though the marriage never happened in the first place. As a result, the presumption of paternity over children conceived during the marriage will be eliminated, as well as the right to obtain child support.

It is important to keep in mind that every marriage and family situation is different, and annulments can have serious consequences. A Fresno annulment attorney will be able to explain your legal rights to you and can help you to weigh the pros and cons of obtaining an annulment.

Differences Between Annulments and Divorces

A divorce legally dissolves and ends a valid marriage and allows both spouses the opportunity to remarry. Following the dissolution of a marriage, the law still recognizes that a valid, legal marriage once existed. However, following annulment proceedings, California courts will not recognize the parties as having ever been married before. Moreover, any marriage records are effectively deemed null and void.

A California court may grant an annulment under one of the following circumstances:

  • The parties are close blood relatives.
  • One of the spouses:
  • was underage at the time of the marriage.
  • is in a bigamous relationship.
  • is not of sound mind.
  • entered into the marriage as a result of fraud, coercion, force, or duress.
  • has been physically incapacitated and cannot consummate the marriage.

The California Annulment Process

In order to obtain an annulment in California, a spouse must first file a “Request for Annulment” with the court in the appropriate county. Under most circumstances, a spouse has four years to file if the annulment is based upon physical incapacity, age, or force. However, if fraud is involved, the petitioning spouse has four years from the date he or she discovered the fraud. A petition for annulment which is based upon bigamous marriages or unsound mind may be filed at any time.

An annulment petition includes background information about the:

  • spouses’ marriage,
  • reason(s) for the annulment, and
  • proposed terms for the annulment.

In some cases, the court may be able to grant a divorce if the requirements for granting an annulment have not been met.

After filing a Petition for Annulment with the appropriate court, the fling spouse has 30 days from the date of filing to notify the other spouse of the petition and serve him or her. The other spouse then has 30 days from the time of receipt to file an answer or response to the annulment petition. Assuming the annulment is uncontested, a court hearing will be set and the judge will issue an annulment decree. The marriage is not annulled until that decree has been entered.

Contact a Fresno Family Lawyer About How to Get an Annulment

The decision to seek an annulment, as opposed to a traditional divorce, can be a difficult one. An experienced Fresno annulment lawyer can assist you in making your decision. He can also help you to weigh the pros and cons of both annulments and divorces. If you are interested in learning how to get an annulment, contact Rick Banks Law by calling 559-222-4891.

Can there be a Fresno Annulment for my Marriage?

California law does allow for an annulment of a marriage in certain circumstances. The big difference between a divorce and an annulment is that a divorce dissolves a marriage while an annulment voids a marriage. That is, an annulment restores the parties to the status of single persons and it is as if the marriage never took place or existed. An annulment attorney cautions that there are very specific grounds and time limits that must be met to succeed in annulling a marriage.

Legal Grounds for an Annulment

It is not enough that the parties discover that they are not compatible or married the wrong person after the date of marriage. California law requires a specific legal reason for a successful annulment proceeding.

  • The parties are related by blood. Any blood relation to a spouse to a measurable degree will nullify a marriage in California.
  • One spouse was committing bigamy. This means that at the time of the marriage, the bigamous spouse was already married to someone else. Exceptions would be if the first spouse was missing or could not be located for a period of five years or more or was otherwise presumed dead. The law allows that, in these instances, a request for an annulment can be filed at any time during the life of the other spouse who was not still married.
  • At the time of the marriage, one spouse was under 18 years of age. This refers to a situation where the proper parental and court consent was not obtained before the marriage and one of both of the spouses was not of legal age on the date of the marriage ceremony.  In situations where the minor misrepresented their age at the time of the marriage ceremony, courts tend to be forgiving in this area and tend to grant the minor an annulment provided that an annulment request is brought within the statutory period of time.
  • A spouse obtained the other spouse’s consent to the marriage through fraud. The fraud must be substantive and go to the “heart or the essence” of the marriage. For example, the spouse who deceives the other spouse into marrying him or her in order to stay in the United States. The aggrieved spouse must bring an action to void or nullify a marriage within four years of the discovery of the fraud.
  • One spouse has an “incurable physical incapacity.” This usually refers to impotency, preventing the couple from engaging in marital relations. Exceptions would apply in situations such as a spouse was disabled before the marriage and that condition was known to the potential spouse before the marital nuptials took place. A request for annulment on these grounds must be brought within four years of the date of the marriage.
  • One or both of the spouses were of unsound mind. This means that one or both of the spouses did not have the mental capacity to understand the nature of the marital proceedings at the time of the marriage ceremony. Examples would be when a spouse is mentally ill or otherwise intoxicated at the time of the marriage. Since the key facts in such a case pertain to the circumstances at the time of the marriage, expert testimony, witnesses and other reliable evidence are essential to prove a voidable marriage.
  • One spouse forced the other spouse to get married. This refers to a situation where one spouse uses violence, coercion or threats of violence towards the other spouse to induce or force that spouse to marry them. Exceptions may apply if the aggrieved spouse was cohabitating with the other spouse freely years before the marriage. These cases are fact driven and there are other circumstances which could constitute “force” as defined by the Family Code. For example, instances of fraud, extortion, blackmail, threats against family or one’s vocation and livelihood could constitute sufficient facts to void or annul a marriage.

The spouse requesting the annulment has the burden of proof to show that at the time of the marriage, one or more of these facts and conditions existed. If the requesting spouse can convince a judge of such, then their request for an annulment will be successful.

Annulment Process

The annulment process is similar to a divorce process. An annulment attorney would file a petition for an annulment and the aggrieved spouse requests an annulment based on the appropriate legal grounds. These are some of the issues that arise during an annulment proceeding.

  • If the non-aggrieved spouse agrees to the requesting spouse’s terms, it is easier to convince a judge to annul a marriage. If the non-aggrieved spouse objects, for reasons such as property division and spousal support, the issues can become more complicated. In those instances, the aggrieved spouse can expect a hearing or trial on the issue as to whether there is a solid legal basis to annul the marriage.
  • Don’t wait too long to file your request for an annulment. If the statute of limitations runs, then you waive any rights you had to annul your marriage. You cannot seek an annulment once the time limit passes; rather, you would have to seek a divorce.
  • If there are children of the marital union, then both parties will still have a duty to support the minor children and a custody and visitation agreement will have to be worked out, either privately or by a judge. If the marriage is successfully annulled, then one of the parties would be well advised to file a paternity action to establish the parties’ legal rights in regards to the minor children.

WNBA Star Seeks Marriage Annulment

Fresno Annulment WNBA superstar and Phoenix Mercury center, Britney Griner has filed for an annulment from her wife, Glory Johnson. The filing comes 29-days after the couple was married and a day after Ms. Johnson announced she was pregnant. Despite the dramatic fashion in which the announcement took place, Ms. Griner insisted that the decision was a mutual one and went on to state, “In the week prior to the wedding, I attempted to postpone the wedding several times until I completed counseling, but I still went through with it. I now realize that was a mistake.”

However, Ms. Johnson – a WNBA player herself – was said to be “blindsided” by the announcement, but plans to carry her child to term. The annulment comes a month after the couple was arrested on domestic violence charges and engaging in “mutual combat.” Continue reading

Annulment: A Divorce Without Marriage

Going through a divorce is the most common way to end a marriage, but you will find that traditional divorce is not the only way that it happens. In fact, an annulment is an option that will sever the ties of marriage if the court finds that it was not valid from a legal standpoint. In these cases, it is as if the marriage never actually existed at all, and annulling a marriage could be the solution that you need. Continue reading