Facts Leading to Annulment of a Marriage

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What Is an Annulment?

An annulment of a marriage is very different from a divorce. A divorce is the dissolution of a valid marriage, and is traditionally granted when one of the spouses does something which legally constitutes grounds for divorce. More recently, a system of “no-fault” divorce has become the norm in the vast majority of U.S. states. However, the essential point remains the same: a legally valid marriage is being dissolved.

An annulment, on the other hand, is a declaration by a court that the “marriage” was never legally valid in the first place. If a marriage is legally valid, it can never be annulled, and the spouses will have to resort to divorce.

A marriage may be either “void” or “voidable”; when a marriage is void, it is automatically annulled. When a marriage is voidable it can be annulled at the option of one of the spouses, but will become a valid marriage if this option is not exercised.

How Is a Marriage Void?

In California, there are 2 grounds that void a marriage: incest and bigamy. In California, relatives closer than first cousins are not allowed to get married, and if they do, the marriage is immediately annulled when the relationship is discovered. Bigamy is when somebody who is legally married tries to marry someone else. This is a crime in all 50 states, and the later marriage is never valid. So, when and if the previous marriage is discovered, the later marriage is automatically annulled.

How Is a Marriage Voidable?

Various facts can make a marriage voidable, rather than void. These include force, fraud, and minority.

Do I Need a Lawyer to Get an Annulment?

The legal process for obtaining an annulment can be very perplexing and stressful, so it is wise to consult with a family attorney. Working with an experienced family lawyer will help you understand your rights and help protect your interests.

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Last Modified: 12-11-2015 03:32 PM PST

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