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Getting your marriage annulled essentially means that it never happened in the eyes of the law. The process is much quicker but is not available to all married couples. In order to qualify for an annulment, your marriage must meet certain requirements.
What is an Annulment?
An annulment is a legal process in which spouses petition a court to have their marriage declared null and void. When an annulment is complete, it will be as if the marriage and legal union never happened at all. When a marriage is annulled, the former spouses will no longer be:
- Prohibited from marrying another person
- Subject to marital property laws
- Able to enjoy the benefits of marriage (e.g., tax, healthcare)
The process of getting an annulment can be complicated. Contact an experienced Los Angeles family law attorney for help navigating the legal steps that are required to have your marriage annulled.
What are the Requirements for Annulment?
Annulment is not available to all married spouses. In fact, marriages can only be annulled in a very limited number of situations. In order to get an annulment, your marriage must be classified as void or voidable.
Some marriages are considered to be void and invalid from the very beginning. In reality, the marriage should never have been permitted in the first place.
- Bigamy: In California, it is illegal to have more than one spouse. If you or your spouse was legally married at the time of your nuptials, your marriage is legally void. There are certain exceptions to this rule. Your marriage may not be considered void if your spouse (or your partner’s other spouse) is living, but was generally believed to be deceased. In order to get an annulment, you must be able to present proof of the other marriage.
- Incest: Family members are prohibited from getting married in California. This includes parents and children, siblings, half-siblings, and aunts or uncles and nieces and nephews. In fact, California law states that marriages are void for spouses who are ancestors and descendants of every degree. If you and your spouse were related in any way, your marriage is considered to be void from the start.
- Invalid Paperwork: in order to get married in California, spouses are legally required to complete certain paperwork and obtain a marriage license. Failure to strictly adhere to state procedures can result in a marriage that is void.
There are other marriages that, while not necessarily void from the start, can be declared to be void because of extenuating circumstances.
If a marriage is entered into under fraudulent pretenses, a spouse can file a petition to have the union annulled. However, if, after becoming aware of the fraudulent marriage, you continue to live with your spouse, the marriage cannot be voided.
If you or your spouse have a mental incapacity, and are unable to understand the purpose and obligations of marriage, a court can void your union.
Spouses must enjoy the right to consummate their marriage. If a spouse suffers from a permanent physical inability to have sex, the marriage can be voided by a court.
In California, spouses must be at least 18 years old or have legal consent to get married. A marriage can be voided if a spouse, prior to turning 18, files a petition for nullity with the court. However, continuing to live with your spouse after turning 18 can make your marriage permanent and not voidable.
Force or Duress
If a marriage is obtained by force or threats, a spouse can ask for the union to be voided. A spouse seeking an annulment must be able to provide proof of the coercion.
How Can I Get an Annulment in Los Angeles?
In order to get an annulment, you first must be able to prove that your marriage is void or voidable. Once you have established that your marriage qualifies for an annulment, you must file a petition for nullity with the state.
Is There a Residency Requirement?
Unlike a petition for divorce, there is no requirement that you file your petition for nullity in the county where you reside. In fact, there is no residency requirement for filing a petition for nullity, at all. You must simply live in California to file in California.
Petition for Nullity of Marriage
The form you must file to request an annulment is actually the same form that is filed when you request a divorce or separation: Form FL-100. When you complete this form, you will be required to provide the following information:
- Your name and your spouse’s name
- Date and location of your marriage
- Children affected by the legal proceeding, and
- Grounds for requesting an annulment.
In addition to Form FL-100, you will also be required to complete a summons (FL-110) and declaration (MC-030). Here, you must provide information, evidence, and proof to support your request for an annulment. In order to make sure that your declaration properly addresses all relevant legal issues, it can be beneficial to hire an experienced family law attorney to assist you. Failing to complete the petition, summons, and declaration properly can prevent you from securing an annulment.
Serve Your Spouse
You must file copies of your petition, summons, and declaration with the court and also serve your spouse. Your spouse must also receive a blank copy of Form FL-120 (blank response) and relevant child custody documents.
You cannot serve your spouse yourself; a friend, family member, or law enforcement officer must present the legal documents to your spouse on your behalf. If your spouse agrees, you also have the option of sending the documents by mail.
Submit Proof of Service
The court will not consider your petition for annulment until it receives proof that your spouse has been served with a copy of all required paperwork. The person who served the documents must complete and sign Form FL-115 (proof of service) and be able to articulate how service was completed.
Once the court has received notice of service, you can set a date for your annulment hearing. At the hearing, you (and your spouse) must present your argument to a judge. The spouse asking for the annulment has the burden of proof. This means that you must be able to prove to a judge that your marriage should be annulled. Your spouse has the right to present any arguments or evidence to rebut your claims. If the judge believes that your marriage is void or voidable, he or she will authorize the annulment.
Contact an Experienced Los Angeles Annulment Attorney
If you believe that your marriage qualifies for an annulment, contact the experienced Los Angeles annulment lawyers at Fernandez & Karney. We have over 50 years of combined legal experience and can help you successfully secure an annulment. The process can become complicated, especially if your spouse contests the petition, so it is important to have the assistance of qualified legal counsel.
Call us today to set up a free consultation and learn more about getting your marriage annulled in Los Angeles.