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Can You Get an Annulment Without the Other Person

When a marriage is no longer happy, the next step is normally divorce. You may be wondering, however, if you can get an annulment instead. An annulment may be a viable option, depending on the reasons for ending the marriage.

Annulment vs. Divorce

Before discussing the criteria for an annulment, it is important to differentiate it from divorce. Divorce is the ending of a marriage. Legally, the marriage happened. Long after you are gone, someone could research your legal timeline and see a period where you were married. The law recognizes that the marriage had a definitive beginning and end.

Annulment, on the other hand, is the invalidation of a marriage. In your personal timeline, the marriage happened. You have memories of it and can recognize it as a part of your history. Legally, however, an annulment erases the marriage completely. The law acts as if it never occurred. If there is marital property, the court simplifies the process, usually just giving it to whoever bought it. If there are children, the law treats them as if the parents were never married to begin with. Ultimately, the law does not recognize the existence of the marriage.

Qualifications for Annulment

By legal standards, acknowledging that a marriage ever took place is serious. As such, the law has rigid requirements to grant an annulment. The reason cannot be as simple as two people who no longer love one another. There must have been a serious breach of trust or the law. This breach means that the marriage shouldn’t have happened to begin with. In California, the standards for an annulment are as follows.

At Least One of the Spouses Was Underage

For anyone under 17 to legally marry, they must have legal consent from their parent or guardian. Without this consent, the marriage can be invalidated. If either spouse is underage, the marriage can be annulled. However, there is a caveat. Once the underage party turns 18, they can choose to stay in the marriage. When that happens, the marriage cannot be annulled. For it to end, it must be dissolved in a divorce.

Either Spouse Is Guilty of Bigamy

Bigamy is the act of being married to more than one person. (For a man married to multiple women, it is referred to as “polygamy.” For a woman with more than one husband, it is “polyandry.”) California is lenient about open marriages, and it does not have common law marriage. If you marry someone and discover they have other partners, even if they call that other person a spouse, that might not be grounds for annulment. Bigamy is someone going through the legal process of marriage with multiple parties. There is no statute of limitations for this standard of annulment. If, at any point, you discover your spouse is legally married to someone else, you can have your marriage nullified.

Either Spouse Was Mentally Ill

Some forms of mental illness put people on a high, causing them to make irrational decisions. It is only when they come down that they can think clearly. Quick, whirlwind marriages are exciting and romantic, but they are sometimes the result of impaired thinking. If either party was mentally ill at the time of the marriage, regains their faculties, and regrets the decision, the marriage can be annulled. To be clear, this standard applies only to mental illness at the time of the wedding. If someone begins to lose their faculties later in the marriage, only a divorce can end it.

However, if the mentally ill individual chooses to continue in the marriage, annulment is no longer an option. Only a formal divorce can end the marriage after this decision is made.

The Marriage Was the Result of Fraud

Unfortunately, some unscrupulous people use love to manipulate someone. If one of the spouses misrepresented who they were to enter the marriage, it can be invalidated. For example, one spouse may have gotten married under a false identity. Perhaps they have children from another marriage that they did not disclose. Maybe they were an immigrant who got married only to stay in the States. Possibly, they lied about being rich, only to have their partner discover they were completely broke.

This standard does not apply to fraudulent behavior within the marriage. If a husband embezzles his wife’s riches, that is fraud, but it is not equivalent to fraud discussed here. Fraud worthy of annulment is tantamount to fooling someone into a marriage with false claims.

The defrauded partner has four years after discovery to annul the marriage. If the defrauded partner chooses to stay in the relationship, nullification is no longer an option.

Either Party Was Married Under Duress

It can be difficult to imagine a scenario where someone was forced into a marriage, but it does happen. Sometimes a criminal organization consolidates power by forcing people to marry. Perhaps a cultish religious group arranges marriages within the community, leaving the couple with no choice. Proving that you were forced into a marriage can be legally difficult. If this situation applies to you, make sure to secure the services of a good Murrieta divorce lawyer.

If you were forced into matrimony, you have four years to prove your situation in court and be granted an annulment. You can, however, choose to remain married, cancelling the chance at annulment.

Either Party Cannot Consummate the Marriage

There are still many people who choose to wait until marriage to have sex. If they do, they may not be aware of having a sexual dysfunction since they have no sexual experience. After a couple marries, if either party is incapable of having sex, the marriage can be annulled.

As with many items on this list, this applies only to the beginning of the marriage. It must be a situation where the dysfunction is discovered or revealed after the wedding. It does not apply to someone who loses their sexual function later.

If any of the above situations apply to you, then you can file for an annulment rather than a divorce. Remember that there are time limits on many of the requirements. Also, if you choose to stay married and change your mind later, that is no longer grounds for an annulment. To end the marriage, you must file for a standard divorce.

If you need help ending your marriage, contact our office today. With our experience, we can help with either annulments or divorces. Our office number is (951) 779-1610, and you can contact us online.