The term “annulment” is frequently misunderstood by California couples. Because pop culture has portrayed an inaccurate picture of how annulments work, California couples assume that they qualify for an annulment based on what they have seen. In reality, however, civil annulments in California are harder to obtain than couples may realize.

Requirements for a California Annulment

To request an annulment in California, a couple must have reasonable grounds for requesting one. Some reasons a judge may approve an annulment include:

  • The couple is related by blood.
  • One spouse was legally married to someone else at the time of the marriage.
  • The individual requesting the annulment was not of legal age at the time of the marriage.
  • One of the parties fraudulently obtained the other party’s consent to marriage. For example, one spouse used the other in order to stay in the country.
  • One of the spouses has a legitimate physical incapacity, such as male impotence – meaning that the couple cannot have sexual relations.
  • One of the spouses was of unsound mind; therefore, they do not understand nor appreciate the duties of marriage. This can include severe intoxication at the time of the marriage or a mental disability.
  • The spouse was forced into the marriage.

The Statute of Limitations Does Apply

There is a statute of limitations for applying for an annulment. This is the deadline in which couples can request an annulment from the courts. The statute, however, depends on the reason for the annulment request. These can include:

  • Age – If the individual was married prior to turning 18, they must file for an annulment within four years after they turn 18.
  • Existing Marriage – If one of the spouses was already legally married, the annulment can be filed by either party at any time as long as the current marriage still exists.
  • Unsound Mind – If one of the spouses is of unsound mind, the annulment can be filed at any time by a relative, the spouse, or a conservator of that individual.
  • Fraud – If the marriage was fraudulent or based on fraud, the couple has four years from the time of the marriage to file for an annulment.
  • Physical Incapacity – The couple has four years from the time of the marriage or when they registered their partnership to file an annulment for physical incapacity.

Understanding the Effects of an Annulment

An annulment means that the marriage was not valid. Therefore, couples will not have the same rights or obligations as they would in a divorce. Some things that may be affected during an annulment include:

  • Children – The legal presumptions regarding children born during a marriage does not exist with an annulment. Instead, a spouse will need to ask the judge to establish paternity for any children from that marriage to collect child support and establish custody.
  • Property and Liabilities – When a marriage is deemed “invalid,” all legal rights and duties to marital properties and debts disappear as well. Therefore, the couple will not be able to use community property laws to divide assets from that marriage, and it means that a spouse will not be entitled to any form of spousal support.

Is an Annulment Right for You? Contact Sarieh Law Offices Today

If you are contemplating an annulment, explore your options and the consequences during a consultation with Sarieh Law Offices today. Schedule your appointment at 714-542-6200 or ask us a question online.