Does Your Marriage Qualify for an Annulment in California?

Hossein Berenji, Aug 08, 2023

If you find yourself in a situation where your marriage isn’t working out as you hoped, consider ending it legally. Divorce and annulment are two primary ways to end a marriage in California.

Divorce is the most common way to dissolve a marriage. However, the state also recognizes annulment, but only under specific circumstances. In this blog post, we’ll delve into annulment in California and explore the grounds for your marriage to qualify.

What is an Annulment?

Unlike a divorce, which ends a valid marriage, an annulment declares that a marriage was never valid in the first place. It’s as if the marriage never existed. Annulment is a legal process that erases the union from the record rather than dissolving it.

Grounds for an Annulment of Marriage in California

If you wish to seek an annulment in California, your case must meet specific state requirements. Let’s explore the grounds that may qualify your marriage for an annulment:

Underage Marriage

California law requires both parties to a marriage to be at least 18 unless they have parental consent or court approval.

Suppose one or both spouses were underage at the time of the marriage and did not have the necessary parental permission or court approval. In that case, the marriage may be eligible for annulment.

These grounds protect young individuals trapped in marriages. It’s recognized that minors might not have voluntarily entered the marriage due to their age and lack of maturity.

Duress or Fraud

The consent of both parties is crucial for a valid marriage. If either spouse was coerced, forced, or deceived into the marriage, it can be considered an invalid ground for marriage.

Duress refers to situations where one party was threatened or subjected to undue pressure to marry against their will. Fraud involves misrepresenting or concealing facts that influenced one’s marriage decision.

These situations undermine a marriage’s voluntary and genuine nature and may warrant an annulment.

Incest or Bigamy

California law prohibits marriages between close-blood relatives. This applies to marriages between siblings, parents, children, grandparents, and grandchildren. It is incestuous and can be annulled if such a marriage occurs.

Additionally, a marriage may be annulled if one spouse was already married to another person at the time of the marriage. This would constitute bigamy.

Mental Incapacity

Both parties must have the requisite mental capacity for a marriage to be valid. Parties must understand the nature of the marriage and provide informed consent. A marriage can be invalid if one or both spouses lack the mental capacity to consent properly.

This ground protects individuals who may suffer from mental disabilities or impairments. These disabilities may prevent them from comprehending the consequences of marriage.

Inability or Refusal to Have Sexual Intercourse

The ability to have sexual intercourse is considered an essential aspect of marriage. If one spouse cannot consummate the marriage, the marriage may be eligible for annulment. This also applies when either spouse refuses to engage in sexual relations altogether.

This ground recognizes that the lack of a physical relationship can impact the validity and purpose of marriage.

Influence of Alcohol or Drugs

Marriages can be affected by substances that impair judgment and decision-making. If either spouse was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the marriage, and this condition influenced their decision to marry, it may be grounds for an annulment. These grounds safeguard against unions entered into impulsively or without clear thinking.

Void or Voidable Marriage to Get an Annulment

In California, there is no specific statute for the annulment of marriage. Instead, the law considers marriages as void or voidable for annulment purposes.

Void Marriage

A void marriage is invalid from the outset. This includes marriages where one or both parties were already married, marriages between close-blood relatives, or marriages where one spouse was underage without proper consent.

Voidable Marriage

A voidable marriage may be challenged and annulled, even though it was valid. For example, if one spouse forced or coerced the other into the marriage, the marriage would be voidable. Another example is if a spouse lacks the mental capacity to provide consent.

Seek Guidance from a Qualified California Annulment Attorney

Annulment is a legal process that declares a marriage null and void as if it never existed. It’s important to understand that obtaining an annulment in California can be complex.

While divorce is the more common option for ending marriages, annulment is available under specific circumstances in California. If you believe your marriage may qualify for an annulment, it’s best to consult experienced family law attorneys who can guide you through the legal process.

Contact a Beverly Hills Family Law Lawyer Today

If you’re going through a divorce, you need a strong team on your side fighting for your rights. Call Berenji & Associates today to know how we can assist you.

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Beverly Hills CA 90212
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Los Angeles, CA 90013
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