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What Annulment Really Means In California?

The Law Offices of Ronald K. StitchMay 17, 2021

Television shows, movies, and religions often mislead audiences concerning annulments. Frequently misunderstood, the legal concept of civil annulments is not meant to make ordinary marriages disappear. In terms of family law, annulments, and divorces both make determinations on existing marriages, but the reasons or grounds for granting each are quite different.

Family law cases involve many complex issues that frequently need to be explained by a professional. If you have questions in need of explanations regarding your marriage or family, do not hesitate to reach out to the skilled Westlake Village divorce attorneys at the Law Offices of Ronald K. Stitch.

What Does Civil Annulment Even Mean?

The vital difference between divorces and annulments is:

  • Divorce is a legal procedure to end an existing and valid marriage
  • Annulments determine whether a marriage ever really existed at all

Getting an annulment is similar to getting a divorce in the California courts, but the process has its own distinct instructions and paperwork for both requesting and opposing an annulment.

Because an annulled marriage has no validity, children’s paternity is often called into question, as if the children were born to single parents. A judge can presume paternity and decide on child support, visitation, and custody.

Couples must separate their own property, including assets and debts, in California annulments. Community property laws do not protect annulled couples. Spousal support or survivorship benefits (inheritances and retirement interests) cannot be automatically received for either party.

In California, there are set deadlines for filing annulments, and the reasons why you want an annulment to determine the time limits for deadlines.

Reasons For Annulments

The reasonable reasons or possible grounds for a Californian annulment include:

  • Age at the time of marriage: If at least one of the parties filing was married under the age of 18. A person has four years after you turn 18 years old to file.
  • Force: If a party was forced to consent to marriage, they have four years to file.
  • Fraud: If either party used deception or fraudulent means to convince the other to get married, like marrying for a green card or not divulging the inability to have children, they have four years to file.
  • Physical incapacity: If either party is physically incapable of consummating the relationship, they can file for annulment within four years.
  • Prior existing marriage or domestic partnership: If either party was already legally married, either as the illegal act of bigamy or because the former spouse has been absent for the last five years, they can file anytime.
  • Unsound mind: If either party was incapable of understanding the nature of marriage, including marital obligations, they can file anytime.

When Should I Contact a Lawyer?

Annulments can be legally complex. The implications associated with dissolving financial and familial stakes can be taxing. Annulling the marriage may not be the right decision. Divorce may be a better option.

In either case, it is particularly important to take the time to discuss your options with the experienced Westlake Village family law attorneys at the Law Offices of Ronald K. Stitch. You can contact us for a free consultation by clicking here or by calling 818-237-4574.

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