This short video provides a general overview of the requirements for filing an annulment in California and the statutory reasons a person can use to get a California annulment Judgment. This is part 1 of a 3 part video that can be viewed in its entirety. The full video reviews the annulment, legal separation and divorce process in California.
There are basically two premises a California court will grant annulment of a marriage. The first is that the marriage is not a valid or legal marriage. The second is that the marriage can be “determined” to be invalid.
Annulment Based on Illegal or Void Marriage
For a marriage to be declared legally not valid, the marriage would have to be 1) incestuous, which is when the parties who are married or in a registered domestic relationship are close blood relatives; or 2) a bigamous marriage, which means a spouse or domestic partner is already married or in a registered domestic partnership relationship with someone else. These are the two basis for determining that a marriage is not valid at all.
Annulment Based on Invalid or Voidable Marriage
The more common option to get a marriage annulled is when it can be “determined” to be invalid. There are several different options under California annulment laws and this statutory premise.
Age of Party: One is the age of one of the parties. For example, if one of the parties was under the age of 18 and they did not have the consent of the parents, that would be considered an invalid marriage.
Prior Existing Marriage: Another option would be if there was a prior existing marriage or domestic partnership. If either party was already married to someone else, the parties could seek an annulment of the current marriage. This is different from bigamy. Bigamy is when a person deliberately remarries without being divorced. On the contrary, with a prior existing marriage, it is usually because a party thought that they were divorced and then discovered they were not divorced; or the party had been missing for a time, they thought their spouse was deceased and they got married again. It is a little different between a prior existing marriage vs. bigamy,
Unsound Mind: A third option would be unsound mind. Unsound mind is when a party is either unable to understand what they are doing or they did not have the capacity to understand what they were doing. We have done several annulments when the parties went to Las Vegas on a whim and they partied, got drunk and decided to go out and get married. The next day they woke up and said “oh my gosh…what did we do?” That would be a basis for unsound mind.
Fraud: The fourth option would be fraud. If either party married the other person on the basis of certain representations that were made to them that were later found to be false. For example, if the person said that they were 40 and they turned out to be 60, that would be a false representation. It could be a variety of things but the basis for an annulment would be 1) that you were told something by the other person, and 2) you got married based upon the representations, and then those representations were discovered to be false.
Force: The fifth option would be force. Force is when someone is forced to marry someone else against their will. I have never actually dealt with an annulment under those circumstances but that would be the factual basis for force.
Physical Incapacitation: Another option would be physical incapacitation. That usually has to do with the inability to consummate the marriage.
Often people will call the office and they say “Oh I have been married for a month, I’ve been married for less than a year. I want to get my marriage annulled. ” They mistakenly think that they can automatically get their marriage annulled just because it is a short marriage. That is not true. In order to get an annulment under California law, you would actually have to file a Petition and allege one of the specific reasons outlined above.
An annulment also requires a court hearing. The person that is seeking the annulment will have to appear in front of a judge and actually give oral testimony in front of a Judge to substantiate the basis that they are claiming for the annulment proceedings.
It is possible to get a marriage annulled in California as long as it qualifies for an annulment under the California statutes outlined above.