Roseville Annulment Attorney
The Law Offices of Evan Samuelson Has 20+ Years' Experience
A divorce or dissolution of marriage is the legal process in which the Court ends a valid marriage. On the other hand, an annulment is a legal process in which the Court determines that the marriage was never valid to begin with. Should the Court annul a marriage, it will be as if the marriage never existed to begin with, with some exceptions. If you have concerns or questions about your marriage, talk to a family law attorney about your case.
Grounds for an Annulment in California
Unlike a divorce, which anyone can obtain in California simply by claiming that there are irreconcilable differences, an annulment can only be granted on very specific grounds:
- The petitioning spouse was under age at the time of marriage
- The petitioning spouse was of unsound mind at the time of marriage
- Force/duress; and/or
- Physical incapacity
Technically, a marriage that is incestuous or bigamous is automatically void, and so some would argue an annulment is not necessarily needed, but it may be beneficial to obtain an annulment regardless so there is a legal record establishing that the marriage is void.
The other grounds, such as fraud and unsound mind do not render a marriage automatically void. Rather they render the marriage voidable. What this means is that the spouse who was induced into the marriage through fraud, for example, can choose to annul the marriage, or he or she can choose to remain in the marriage and consider the marriage valid even after having discovered the fraud. A spouse who was under age at the time of marriage can choose to consider the marriage valid after he or she reaches the age of majority.
Is annulment better than divorce?
The benefits of annulments are that since the marriage does not exist, then there are no rights to community property or spousal support. However when one of the spouses is a putative spouse, he or she can still ask for a division of community property or spousal support despite the marriage begin invalid. A putative spouse is a spouse who had good faith belief that the marriage was valid; the marriage was invalidated through no fault of that spouse. So, for example, a wife marries her husband, not knowing that he never got divorced from his previous wife. The marriage is void on the grounds of bigamy, but the current wife has no reason to know that. She is therefore a putative spouse. She may still ask the Court for spousal support and to divide property as if the marriage was valid. However, the husband is not a putative spouse because he knew his prior marriage was never dissolved. He is the reason the current marriage is void.
If you believe that there are grounds for annulling your marriage, as opposed to simply dissolving it, please contact the Law Offices of Evan Samuelson for a consultation with a family lawyer. We will discuss in greater detail the possible benefits of requesting an annulment.