There are many different ways to end a marriage. For most people, they will go through the traditional divorce process. Some will qualify to file for a summary dissolution, which is a streamlined version of a divorce for short-term marriages with few assets and no children.
Annulments are another option for ending a marriage however very few marriages will qualify to file for one. An annulment is what is considered a nullity of a marriage. It renders the marriage null and void. However, it can only nullify a marriage that is considered invalid.
There are several reasons why a marriage could not be legally valid. To legally marry someone in California, the two parties to the marriage must not be legally married to another person. The marriage also must not be incestuous between two closely related family members. A marriage with one or both parties being minors also can be considered invalid as well as one where someone was not mentally capable of consenting to marriage.
Other cases where marriage may be invalidated are when the marriage is a result of one spouse being defrauded or forced into marriage. Also, one of the more well known reasons for the invalidity of a marriage is when one party is not, nor ever will be, physically capable of consummating the marriage and this was unknown to the other party. Keep in mind that some of these issues may need to be proven for the annulment to be recognized. For example, you would need to prove that your spouse was already married. This process of proof may be difficult, dependent on the reason for the invalidity.
If you are seeking an annulment and are not sure how to proceed in proving one of these reasons, consult with an experienced family law attorney so you can establish evidence to the court in order to nullify your marriage. It is important to note that you cannot get an annulment whenever you want. You can file for one as soon as you are married however you must do so within a certain time frame, dependent upon what the reason for the annulment is. This is called a statute of limitations and will vary for each reason.
In general, with an annulment, the rights and obligations tied to a marriage are not enforceable. For example, your child may not have the right to child support from your spouse unless paternity is formally established. And, having not been married legally, you may not be eligible for common rights as a spouse such as a share of the community property and spousal support.
Are you in the Los Angeles area and have questions about annulments? Certified Family Law Specialist Mark H. Karney has experience handling annulments, summary dissolutions and traditional divorces in Los Angeles County. Attorney Mark H. Karney can listen to your story and advise you on what options you have to end your marriage. Call our Los Angeles office at 310-622-9434; email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us through our online form to schedule your free consultation with one of Los Angeles’s premier family law attorneys.