In conclusion, it is important to remember that the state is particularly interested in seeing that no marriage is declared void, therefore getting an annulment can be very difficult. You must be able to prove to the judge that one of these reasons above is valid to obtain an annulment. For instance, in the case of fraud, an annulment of marriage may be granted only in an extreme case where the particular fraud goes to the very essence of the marriage relation, courts have rejected the granting of an annulment to a wife whose husband, prior to the marriage, misrepresented his financial status and fraudulently induced her to invest in a business venture with him, with the intent to gain control of her assets. In such a case, the court held that such fraud was not the type that constituted an adequate basis for granting an annulment to the wife. With this in mind, it is important to make sure you can obtain adequate evidence to be granted an annulment.
In California, a divorce is the legal termination of a marriage or domestic partnership. Divorces in California can be filed either due to irreconcilable differences or due to a spouse’s permanent legal incapacity to make decisions. California is deemed a no-fault divorce state, so a spouse or domestic partner does not need a specific reason to dissolve the relationship.
Unlike a divorce, which acknowledges the validity of a marriage or domestic partnership, an annulment terminates the relationship by declaring it null and void. In essence, an annulment declares the marriage was never legal, so it will be as if it never happened. To obtain a valid annulment it must be shown that it was not legal. The following is a list of legal reasons to qualify for an annulment:
1. Incestuous: When the people who are married or in a registered domestic partnership are close blood relatives.
2. Bigamous: where a spouse or domestic partner is already married to or in a registered domestic partnership with someone else.
3. Age at the time of marriage or domestic partnership: the party filing for the annulment was under 18 years old at the time of the marriage or domestic partnership.
4. Fraud: Either party got married or registered the domestic partnership as a result of fraud. The fraud must have been about something vital to the relationship that directly affected why the party who was deceived agreed to the marriage or domestic partnership. Some examples are marrying only to get a green card or hiding the inability to have children.
5. Unsound mind: either party was of “unsound mind” or unable to understand the nature of the marriage or domestic partnership, including the obligations that come with it.
6. Force: either party consented to getting married or filing a domestic partnership as a result of force.
7. Physical incapacity: the parties got married or registered a domestic partnership while one of them was “physically incapacitated.”
Should you get An Annulment or Divorce?
An annulment is likely the best choice when you are able to meet the requirements for one. Unlike a divorce, an annulment does not involve a lengthy legal process. Since an annulment means your marriage or domestic partnership was never valid, you may not have other rights and obligations that couples that file for divorce or legal separation do. For instance, if you and your spouse or domestic partners have children together and you get an annulment, the legal presumption that children born during a marriage or domestic partnership are children of the couple also does not exist. This means that, if you get an annulment you must ask the judge to establish paternity for any children you have in common with the other party. Once paternity is established, then you can in your annulment, ask the judge to make an order about custody, visitation and child support. Additionally, when you claim that a marriage or domestic partnership is not legally valid, you are also saying that the legal right and duties of community property laws in California do not apply. Which means that you and the other party cannot rely on community property laws to divide any property or debt you accumulated while you were married or in a domestic partnership. But, there is the exception of “putative” spouse or domestic partner status. This means that they may have the right to community property, support, and other property-related benefits. To prove you have “putative” spouse or partner status can be complicated. You will have to prove that you had a good faith belief that the marriage or domestic partnership was legal under California law.