Not all marriages are created equal. If you don’t take the right steps, what you thought was a valid marriage could actually be void or voidable. Under California law, certain marriages are void and others are voidable. Marriages that are void or voidable can change property ownership situations and financial/future planning for individuals and couples.
If the court decides that your marriage is invalid, your options for separation may change. As such, it is best to understand the factors that make a marriage invalid in order to properly plan for your future.
What Makes a Marriage Valid in California?
In order for a marriage to be valid under California law, the couple must obtain a county marriage license and complete a marriage ceremony with a legally authorized official. The county will issue a marriage certificate once these terms of licensing have been satisfied.
It is important to note that a marriage certificate by itself does not always prove the validity of a marriage in California. California law considers some marriage licenses completely void and others voidable, depending on the situation. If you and your spouse did not commit any invalidating acts, you have a valid marriage and must file for a divorce as opposed to an annulment.
5 Common Reasons For a Court Deeming a Marriage Void or Voidable
If the court decides that your marriage is void, it means the union cannot exist under current laws. In other words, your marriage was never legally valid. Under California law, a voidable marriage is a marriage that can be deemed invalid under certain conditions. The marriage will be nullified only if someone challenges. The law will not proactively invalidate a voidable marriage.
California Family Code Section 2200-2210 outlines the law for a valid marriage. Five common reasons California court will invalidate a marriage license include:
- Incest (void) – relatives of every degree cannot legally get married.
- Bigamy (void) – Individuals who are legally married cannot get married unless the (1) marriage was dissolved before the second marriage took place or (2) the former spouse has been completely out of the picture for five or more years.
- Sham (void) – you cannot get married for the sole reason of gaining entrance into the U.S.
- Underage (voidable) – minors are incapable of consenting to marriage, unless they have consent from both parents and a court order
- Incapacity (voidable) – the court may consider a marriage voidable if one of the spouses does not have the mental capacity of understanding the union of marriage
Call an Experienced Central Valley Divorce Attorney
If you are going through a divorce or are planning to file for divorce in the near future, you need to hire an experienced divorce attorney to help protect your legal rights and make sure this already traumatic experience proceeds as smoothly and painlessly as possible.
For more information or to schedule a complimentary consultation with Central Valley divorce attorney Gurjit Srai, please call us at (209) 323-5558 or (559) 314-2796, or complete our online form.