How to qualify for an annulment in California

Written by J. Hirby and Fact Checked by The Law Dictionary Staff  

<p>Marriages or registered domestic partnerships in California can only be ended through either a divorce proceeding or an annulment. When a court grants a divorce, the marriage or domestic partnership that existed is terminated. The difference after a court grants an annulment is that the marriage or domestic partnership is treated as though it never happened.</p>
<p>Grounds for an Annulment</p>
<p>Annulments are only granted if the person seeking it has evidence to prove that at least one of the legal grounds for it exists. The grounds upon which an annulment may be granted include:</p>
<ul>
<li>The parties are blood relatives</li>
<li>One of the parties was already married or in a domestic partnership with another person</li>
<li>The person seeking it was under 18 years of age and did not have parental consent</li>
<li>One or both of the parties was unable to understand the nature of the obligations undertaken in the marriage or partnership</li>
<li>One of the parties was induced by fraud or forced to enter into the union</li>
<li>Physical incapacity making it impossible to consummate the relationship</li>
</ul>
<p>Incest and Bigamy</p>
<p>A marriage or domestic partnership between people who are blood relatives is void under state law. The same is true where one spouses or domestic partner is already married or in a partnership with another person. Incestuous or bigamous marriages and domestic partnerships are void. This means the union is not recognized by the state.</p>
<p>Unlike in situations involving the other reasons for an annulment, the parties to a bigamous or incestuous cannot agree to continue the marriage or partnership. The relationship is void as far as state law is concerned, so it never existed and the impediment to it cannot be waived by the parties.</p>
<p>Effect of Other Grounds</p>
<p>Other grounds for an annulment cause the marriage or partnership to be voidable instead of void. A voidable relationship may continue unless the party entitled to it commences an annulment proceeding. For example, a person who was under 18 years of age at the time of a marriage has the right to file for an annulment, but the person also has the right to waive the impediment and continue in the marriage.</p>
<p>Statute of Limitations to File</p>
<p>Because it is a court proceeding, an annulment action must be filed within time periods specified by law for each of the different grounds. The only grounds that may be filed at any time and for which no filing deadline exists are bigamy and incest.</p>

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