Under certain circumstances, you can have your marriage declared to not have existed in the State of California. The reasons for a California court to grant a nullity are specific and are not meant to be used for those who have remorse about their decision to get married. An annulment in California, or nullity, is granted when a California court that finds a marriage or domestic partnership is not legally valid.
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There are several ways to obtain an annulment of your marriage.
You and your spouse are close blood relatives which means that your relationship is either a parent and child, brother and sister, uncle and niece, or aunt and nephews (to name a few).
Either you or your spouse is currently married to someone else. An annulment can be filed by either spouse as long as both parties to the current marriage are alive, or by the prior existing spouse.
The party filing for an annulment was under the age of 18 at the time of the marriage or domestic partnership was entered into. The person who married or entered into a domestic partnership while under 18 must file for annulment within 4 years after reaching 18.
Unknown or Believed Dead
At the time of filing, either party was already legally married to a person who was absent for 5 years and not known to be living or generally thought to be dead.
A party was of “unsound mind” or unable to understand the nature of the marriage and the obligations surrounding the relationship. This petition for annulment must be filed before the death of either party.
One spouse was deceived about something vital to the relationship that directly affected why the party who was deceived agreed to the marriage or domestic partnership. The petition for annulment must be filed within 4 years of discovering the fraud.
Either party consented to getting married as a result of physical, mental or emotional intimidation. The petition for annulment must be filed within 4 years of getting married or registering the domestic partnership.
The parties were married while one of them was unable to consummate the relationship and the incapacity continues and appears to be “incurable.” The annulment petition must be filed within 4 years of getting married.
Effect on Children
The legal presumption that children born during a marriage are children of the couple also does not exist. Upon the granting of an annulment, the court must establish parentage (paternity) for any children that the parties have in common. Once the parentage has been established, the court can then address other issues, such as; custody and visitation, and child support.
Effect on Community Property
California community property right laws do not apply when a marriage is annulled and there is no community property. Each party property is their separate property.
Effect on Spousal Support
An annulment also eliminates the parties right to claim spousal or partner support, or other benefits like the right to a portion of the other person’s pension or retirement benefits, unless that person is deemed to be a putative spouse or domestic partner. A putative spouse is a party who had a good faith belief that the marriage or domestic partnership was legal under California law.
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