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What Is an Annulment?

If you and your spouse no longer wish to remain united in marriage, you may have the option to seek an annulment rather than a divorce. Whereas a divorce is the termination of a marriage, the annulment acts to eliminate the marriage, making it as if it never existed from a legal standpoint. However, not everyone qualifies for an annulment in the state of California.

How Annulments Work

Annulments are referred to as voidable marriages. In order to obtain an annulment, you must first establish that you have grounds for an annulment. Once you determine your eligibility, you must file a court action to obtain a decree of nullity. Working with an annulment attorney can help speed this process along and simplify the annulment process. When the decree of nullity has been granted, the marriage will be considered nonexistent. Legally, it will be as if the marriage never existed.

Typically, the court grants annulments to short-term marriages, though it is possible to obtain an annulment for long-term marriages so long as the eligibility requirements are met.

Who Qualifies for an Annulment?

Only certain marriages are deemed eligible for an annulment. In the state of California, at least one of the following criteria must be met:

  • Bigamy: One spouse was already married at the time the second marriage took place.
  • Force: The union only took place because one party was forced into the marriage against his or her will.
  • Fraud: One of the spouses agreed to the marriage because of the lies or misrepresentation of the other spouse.
  • Incest: In cases of incest, the marriage is considered prohibited by law.
  • Physical Incapability: One spouse is incapable of consummating the marriage.
  • Underage: Either spouse was under the age of 18 when the marriage took place and did not have parental consent or court approval.
  • Unsound Mind: Either spouse was incapable of understanding the responsibilities of marriage at the time the union took place.

Each of these criteria can be met through a variety of ways to allow for a number of unique situations. For example, if a spouse misrepresented his or her desire for marriage by feigning a true attachment in order to gain U.S. citizenship, such a situation could qualify as grounds for an annulment. Likewise, if a spouse hid a substance abuse problem, a felony conviction, sexually transmitted disease, or other serious facts, those cases would also be considered eligible for an annulment.

If you think you may qualify for an annulment, our family law attorneys can work with you to determine the best course of action for your case. We can evaluate the circumstances of your marriage and assess whether or not, by law, your situation qualifies for an annulment.

To get started, contact Singleton Smith Law Offices, Inc. to discuss your case with our Murrieta family law attorneys.