What is an annulment?
An annulment is a legal procedure for declaring a marriage null and void. Legally an annulment, or nullity of marriage is when a court says your marriage or domestic partnership is not legally valid. After an annulment, it is like your marriage or domestic partnership never happened because it was never legal. A San Diego annulment lawyer can help determine if a marriage or domestic partnership is legally valid.
There are two different types of marriage annulments, a civil annulment and a religious annulment. Courts issue civil annulments. A civil annulment may not be required to obtain a religious annulment. If you were married in a religious ceremony, you should consult with your clergymen concerning the requirements of obtaining a religious annulment.
In California, there are a number of possible “grounds,” or reasons, that a judge might grant a request to annul a marriage:
- The couple is related by blood.
- Bigamy – one spouse was already married before entering into the second marriage.
- The person requesting the annulment was not eighteen years old at the time of the marriage.
- Either spouse perpetrated a fraud to obtain the other party’s consent to marriage. The fraud has to go to the heart, or essence, of the marriage. The fraud must have been about something vital to the relationship that directly affected why the party who was deceived agreed to the marriage or domestic partnership. Some examples may include: marrying only to get a green card or hiding the inability to have children.
- One of the spouses has an “incurable physical incapacity.” This typically refers to male impotence that prevents the couple from having sexual relations.
- One or both spouses is of “unsound mind” (meaning, a mental condition that prevents them from understanding and appreciating the nature and duties of marriage – including intoxication).
- Either party consented to getting married or filing a domestic partnership as a result of force.
When asking for an annulment the person has the burden of proof to show the judge that one or more of the above reasons existed at the time of the marriage. In California, annulment proceedings are the same as those in a divorce action. One of the parties to the so-called marriage has to bring a petition for annulment, and by doing so, they are asking that the court declare the marriage be void.
Since there are only limited circumstances which annulments are granted, it is advisable to speak with a qualified San Diego annulment attorney. Dunne & Dunne have a thorough understanding of California annulment laws and knows how those laws are applied within the court system on a case-by-case basis. We will provide an honest assessment of the facts and let you know the best approach to take. If there are several options we will advise you accordingly.
A legal annulment is not the same as a religious annulment. The San Diego family law attorneys at Dunne & Dunne handle legal annulments to end marriages and to return partners to the status they maintained prior to their marriage. Although an annulment might seem like a simple solution to a marriage that never should have happened, the process can involve risks. You generally get only one chance to fix this problem, so you want to do it right. Our attorneys are experienced handling annulments and can advise you on what to file, and where and how to file it.
If you think that you may fall within one of the above statutory grounds for an annulment and would like to pursue your options, it is vital that you obtain sound legal advice regarding your options. At Dunne & Dunne, we can assist you in making these important decisions. Contact us today at 619-232-9260 for a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys who can advise you as to what the best options are for your situation.