An annulment or “nullity of marriage” occurs when a domestic partnership is legally declared invalid. Such a legal procedure will nullify or void the marriage. To qualify for an annulment you must show that the marriage was either void or voidable when it was initiated. A void marriage is void from the beginning and, technically, never existed. A voidable marriage is valid for all intents and purposes until you obtain the annulment judgment in court.
There are two grounds for a void marriage:
- Incest: Marriages involving blood relatives being married to each other, like a parent and their child or brothers and sisters, are void due to incest.
- Bigamy: If someone marries a second time while he or she is married to another individual, the 2nd marriage is void due to bigamy.
Grounds for a voidable marriage include:
- Bigamy at the time of marriage: Instead of void, a bigamous marriage is considered voidable if, for five successive years prior to the second marriage, the first spouse has been absent and not known to be alive; or if the first spouse was generally believed to be dead.
- Minority at the time of marriage: when one of the parties was under the age of 18 at the time of marriage, the marriage is considered voidable.
- Unsound mind at the time of marriage: If one of the parties in the marriage was unable to understand the nature of the marriage contract and all the obligations and rights that come along with it at the time of the marriage, it is considered voidable.
- Consent to the marriage was obtained by fraud: If one party defrauded the other, as defined as a false representation or a cover up of facts, which alters the very essence of the marriage, it is considered voidable.
- Consent to the marriage was obtained by force: In these situations only the forced spouse can file a petition and must do so within 4 years from the date of marriage.
- Physical incapacity: Is defined as the inability to engage in normal copulation. The petition must be filed within 4 years from the date of marriage.
Clearly, the laws regarding an annulment in California can be exceedingly complex. If you are seeking an annulment or nullity of marriage, please contact an experienced and caring Southern California family law attorney at Wallin & Klarich. We can help you through this difficult time and help resolve your issues in a fair and equitable manner while ensuring that your legal rights are protected. Call us today at 1-888-749-7428 for a free consultation.