Annulment Of Marriage In California

The Basics

An annulment is a procedure to terminate a marriage. Once an annulment is granted, the former marriage is treated like it never legally existed.

There are several grounds for seeking a to terminate a marriage by annulment. The most common are (1) that the marriage is made between spouses of an incestuous or bigamous relationship, (2) the party filing for an annulment was a minor at the time the marriage was consummated, (3) 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, (4) the marriage was consummated through fraud, (5) the marriage was consummated by force, and (6) the parties got married or registered a domestic partnership while 1 of them was “physically incapacitated”, i.e. one of the spouses or partners was physically incapable of “consummating” the relationship.

Statute of Limitations Applicable To Annulment

The statute of limitations is the deadline for filing a lawsuit. Unlike annulments, divorces and legal separations do not have a deadline. The time frame for filing an annulment depends on the reason you have asserted in support of granting the annulment. The person who married or entered into a domestic partnership while under 18 must file for annulment within 4 years after reaching 18. (A parent or guardian of the minor can ask for an annulment while the minor is still under 18.)

An annulment based on a prior or existing marriage can be filed by either party as long as both parties to the current marriage/partnership are alive, or by the prior existing spouse or domestic partner. An annulment based on the unsound mind of one spouse can be filed by the party claiming that his or her spouse or domestic partner is of unsound mind, or by a relative or conservator of the party of unsound mind, at any time before the death of either party. An annulment on grounds of fraud can only be filed by the person who was deceived within 4 years of discovering the fraud. An annulment on grounds of force can only be filed by the person who was forced to give consent, and must be filed within 4 years of getting married. An annulment based on physical incapacity can be filed by the party claiming that his or her spouse or domestic partner is physically incapacitated within 4 years of getting married or registering the domestic partnership.

Legal Effect of an Annulment

Since an annulment means your marriage or domestic partnership was never valid, you may not have other rights and obligations as couples who file for divorce or legal separation. For example, if you and your spouse or domestic partner have children together and you are granted an annulment, the legal presumption that children born during a marriage are children of the couple does not exist. This means that, if you get an annulment, you must also ask the judge to establish parentage (paternity) for any children you have in common with the other party.

Once the parentage is established, then you can ask the judge to make orders about custody, visitation and child support. An annulment also affects the property rights of the respective spouses. Since an annulment deems the marriage to be legally invalid from the outset, community property laws in California generally do not apply. This means that you and the other party cannot rely on community property laws to divide any property or debt that you accumulated while you were married or in a domestic partnership. It also means that you would not have the right to spousal or partner support, or other benefits like the right to a portion of the other person’s pension or retirement benefits.

Formal Proof Supporting Annulment Required

Unlike a dissolution or legal separation proceeding, an annulment requires formal testimony and other evidence proving that one or more grounds for the annulment exists. Such proof is presented at a court hearing, which can take place no earlier than 31 days following the date of service of the Summons and Petition on the other party. At the hearing, if the court approves the grounds for the annulment, a judgment of nullity will be immediately granted, restoring the parties to single status and allowing them to immediately remarry after the hearing. There is no six-month waiting period.

Get help with your California annulment today! Lynx Legal Service can save you thousands of dollars by preparing your annulment documents instead of an expensive attorney. If you have any questions or would like to start a case, please call 888-441-2355 or email us at Our specialists are standing by to answer any inquiries you may have or start your new case.

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