If, in a rare case, one or both parties believe their marriage to be invalid, an annulment can take place. There are several reasons why a marriage could be “null”, essentially meaning it was never valid and legal in the first place. To begin, one must see when a marriage is never legal. First, any inter-family relationships (close relatives) are prohibited by law. Conversely, if you or your partner are already legally married or in a partnership with someone else, your current contract with them is invalid.
Other reasons a marriage might not be considered valid in the state of California:
- Not of the legal age (18) to marry
- Similar to the above, your marriage could be dissolved if a partner was gone for five years or believed to be dead
- If one party is of “unsound mind”
- If it is discovered by one or both members of the marriage that they were a victim of fraudulent circumstances
- If either partner was forced, coerced, or manipulated either physically or mentally to enter the marriage
To continue the annulment process, one or both of you must prove to the courts that at least one of the above is true and accurate. Also, unlike a divorce in California, there is no time requirement associated with an annulment and marriage, whether it be 10 days or 10 years.
Time Limitations to File and Annulment
Unlike legal separations or divorces, annulment proceedings in California do have a statute of limitations. These time frames vary from issue to issue, see below and determine which course of action is the most appropriate for you:
- Not of the legal age – The spouse who was not 18 years of age has four years from reaching legal age to file
- Former marriage or discovery of spouse – Can be filed by either partner, at any time, upon the discovery of the missing or living person
- A significant other may be declared having an unsound mind by their spouse or by a relative at any time in the marriage. *Note* the requirements to nullify a marriage through this avenue can be very difficult to prove
- If a spouse believes they are a victim of fraudulent activities, they must file for an annulment within four years of discovering the fraud
- Similar to fraud claims, if a spouse was forced, coerced, or manipulated into a nuptial agreement, they have four years from the marriage certificate date to file for annulment
Consequences and Factors to Consider
If there are dependent children involved, the annulment unfortunately considers the parental considerations as nonexistent. What this means for both parties is that they must petition their judge for paternity. Only after parental guidelines are established by a court, may judgment be make regarding custody, visitation rights, or child support.
Additionally, unlike a marriage or legal separation in California, claiming your marriage as null also means that either party cannot rely on the other to follow California Common Property laws to divide things like financial and property debt.
Farbod Majd Esq.
Divorce Attorney w/ offices in Beverly Hills/Los Angeles
Services in English, Turkish, and Farsi/Persian (Iranian/American Lawyer)
8383 Wilshire Blvd Suite 646, Beverly Hills, CA 90211
310.956.4600 | Fax: 310.878.8989 | [email protected]