Getting your marriage annulled is a serious decision. Unlike getting a divorce, an annulment will virtually wipe away any traces of the marriage from history. This means that in the eyes of the court, it will be as if the marriage never occurred. The result will be that you will no longer have a presumption of paternity over children conceived during the annulled marriage or the have the right to demand child support from your spouse. As such, it is important to understand the ramifications before you choose annulment.
Annulment v. Divorce: What Is the Difference?
A divorce legally dissolves your marriage. You will effectively be single and have the option to get married again. Once you are divorced, California law still recognizes that you were at one point married but ended due to irreconcilable differences.
An annulment, however, effectively cancels a marriage. Once your marriage is annulled, it is as if you were never married. The courts will not recognize you and your spouse as ever having been married. Any records of your marriage will, in essence, be tossed away and your marriage will be deemed as invalid.
Reasons for Finding a Marriage Invalid
California courts may find a marriage invalid for various reasons, including:
- At the time of marriage, one of the spouses was less than 18 years of age
- The parties are close blood relatives or one of them is bigamous
- One of the spouses is of unsound mind or unable to understand the nature of marriage
- One of the spouses entered the marriage as the result of fraud or force
- One of the spouses is irreparably physically incapacitated and unable to consummate the marriage
If the court determines that your marriage is invalid, it will declare that the marriage never even existed under the law.
Steps to Getting Your Marriage Annulled
Annulments may not be as complicated as a divorce, but they do have their own requirements. A request for an annulment must be made before the statute of limitations for an annulment runs out. The time limit to file for an annulment in California depends on the situation.
Similar to a divorce, you or your Central Valley family law attorney must file the proper documents with the court for it to consider approving your annulment. You must complete the summons to notify your spouse of the petition for annulment within 30 days of filing. He or she will have 30 days from the time of receipt to respond. You must achieve an uncontested proceeding, whether it is the result of a spousal agreement to the summons or a default judgment.
The next step is to attend a court hearing. If the judge deems your request valid, you will get an official order and your marriage will be annulled.
Call an Experienced Central Valley Family Law Attorney
If you need help understanding the annulment process under California law, it is important to consult with an experienced attorney. For more information or to schedule a complimentary consultation with a Central Valley family law attorney, please call Gurjit Srai (209) 323-5558 or (559) 449-1447, or complete our online form.