An annulment (also referred to as nullity) occurs when a judge declares a marriage is not legally valid (because of legal issues when the marriage began). If you are granted an annulment, your marriage will be considered void (as if it never happened) because it wasn’t legal. Your marriage will be annulled if you can prove to the court that the marriage is incestuous or bigamous. Other grounds for an annulment include:
- Physical incapacity. If either spouse is unable to consummate the marriage, the court may grant an annulment. Annulments on the ground of physical incapacity must be filed within four years of your marriage.
- Mental unfitness. If either spouse has an “unsound mind” and is unable to understand the nature of the relationship they are entering, the court may grant an annulment.
- Fraud. If either spouse entered into the marriage because of fraud or deception, the court may grant an annulment.
- Force. If either spouse entered the marriage because of forceful influence or threats, the court may grant an annulment. Annulments on these grounds must be filed within four years of your marriage.
- Age. If either party was a minor when they were married, the court may grant an annulment. You must file on these grounds within four years of the underage party turning 18 years old.
Annulment vs. Divorce in California
An annulment is not the same as a divorce; while both a divorce and an annulment result in the end of a marriage, a divorce dissolves a legally valid marriage, and an annulment voids a legally invalid marriage. Annulments also treat your marriage as if it never occurred. Other differences include:
- Divorces occur because of problems within a marriage, while annulments dissolve marriages because of problems with the formation of the marriage.
- Divorces can be obtained at any time, while annulments (on certain grounds) must be filed within four years of your marriage.
Religious vs. Court Annulments
Many people wonder how they can annul their marriage with their church or within their religious organization, which is referred to as a religious annulment. However, a religious annulment is not the same thing as a civil or court annulment. The main difference between these two types of annulments is that a church annulment is granted by the church (or a clergy member) and a civil annulment is granted by the court.
It is also important to note that a religious annulment does not legally void your marriage, and the annulment would not be recognized by the state or law. The grounds for a church annulment may also differ from the grounds for a civil annulment.
How to Annul a Marriage in California
To legally annul your marriage, you must file a Petition—Marriage/Domestic Partnership (Form FL-100) and Summons (Form FL-110) at your local court (i.e. in the county where you or your spouse live). If you and your partner have a child, you will also need to file a Declaration under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (Form FL-105). The filing fee for these forms can cost up to $450.
If you cannot afford the filing fee, you can also submit a fee waiver. Depending on the court where you file, you may also have to complete additional forms. You should consult with an attorney to ensure you complete the necessary forms correctly.
After filing the forms, you will need to serve the other party and file proof that they have been served. The other party will have 30 days to respond.
You will then need to attend a hearing. The party who filed the initial petition will have to submit proof (or evidence) that substantiates the grounds under which you filed. For instance, if you filed on the grounds of mental unfitness because you were drunk, you will need to provide evidence that you were intoxicated and unable to understand the magnitude of your decision to get married. You may submit eyewitness statements, video footage, expert opinions, etc.
Contact Our Attorneys Today
Creative Family Solutions, Cecil Cianci Law, PC prides itself on helping our clients protect their interests and make informed decisions throughout their cases. Whether you need help with a divorce or an annulment case, our attorneys can help you with the case legalities and develop an individualized strategy for your case. Backed by over sixty years of collective experience, our firm is here and equipped to help you.
To schedule a consultation, complete our online contact form or call (916) 675-3866 today. We look forward to hearing from you.