What is an annulment? Grounds for and Consequences of…
An annulment (or “nullity”) proceeding is maintained on the theory that, for reasons existing at the time of the marriage, NO valid marriage ever occurred.
The marriage, from its inception, is either void or voidable.
Void marriage is invalid per se, void from the beginning.
Voidable marriage is valid for all purposes until judicially declared a nullity.
Legal reasons to ask for an annulment:
1. Void marriages:
· Incestuous: a marriage between blood relatives.
· Bigamous: entering into a marriage with one person while still legally married to another.
2. Voidable marriages:
· Age: the party filing for an annulment was under 18 at the time of the marriage.
· Prior existing marriage: the “former” spouse was absent for 5 successive years immediately preceding the subsequent marriage and not known to be living or generally thought to be dead.
· Unsound mind: either party was, at the time of marriage, of unsound mind. This term denotes lunacy, insanity and incompetency.
· Fraud: the consent of either party to get married was obtained by fraud.
· Force: the consent of either party to get married was obtained by force.
· Physical incapacity: either party was, at the time of marriage, physically incapable of entering into the marriage, and that incapacity continues, and appears to be incurable.
It can be very costly and difficult to prove an annulment. But if there are grounds for an annulment then make sure you talk to an attorney in order to understand this process better.
Statue of limitation to file for an annulment:
The statute of limitations is a maximum time limit that parties have to initiate legal proceedings. In general, once the statute of limitations “runs out,” you can no longer file for an annulment.
The period of time within which you can file for an annulment varies depending on the reason why you want the annulment.
· Incestuous: either spouse can file at any time while the other spouse is still alive.
· Bigamous: either spouse can file at any time while the spouse from the first marriage is still alive.
· Age: by a party who got married while being under 18 within 4 years after reaching 18.
· Prior existing marriage: by either spouse (or the prior existing spouse) as long as both spouses to this marriage are alive.
· Unsound mind: by spouse claiming that her/his spouse is of unsound mind or by relative/conservative of a spouse who is of unsound mind, at any time before the death of either party.
· Fraud: by a deceived spouse within 4 years of discovering the fraud.
· Force: by a forced spouse within 4 years of getting married.
· Physical incapacity: by a spouse claiming that her/his spouse is physically incapacitated within 4 years of getting married.
Rights and obligations relating to the children:
If you got an annulment, and the father had never signed a voluntarily declaration of parentage at the time a child was born, then you (or your spouse) would need to establish parentage (paternity) for any children you have in common with the other party.
Upon establishing parentage (paternity) you will be able to request the judge to make orders related to child custody and visitation and child support.
Rights and obligations relating to spousal support:
If you got an annulment you and your spouse would not have the right to ask for spousal support.
Rights and obligations relating to property and debt:
If you got an annulment it means that the rights and duties of community property laws do not apply to you and your spouse. You and your spouse won’t be able to divide any property or debts you accumulated while you were “married”.
Don’t panic, there is an exception; it is called a putative spouse status. This is a very complicated process; you would need to prove that you had a good faith belief that the marriage was valid/legal under California Law.
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