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Feeling Trapped in Your Marriage? Here are your Legal Options


Even if your arranged marriage doesn’t meet the standard to be considered a “forced” marriage, you may have experienced pressure from friends or family members to tie the knot with your spouse. Conversely, you might have been too young or been tricked into a marriage. In any case, being stuck in a marriage in which you did not fully consent can have you feeling hopeless.

Fortunately, no marriage situation is hopeless. You may be able to get your marriage annulled or get a divorce! A marriage is NEVER legally valid when it is:

  • Incestuous: when the people who are married or in a registered domestic partnership are close blood relatives; or

  • Bigamous: where a spouse or domestic partner is already married to or in a registered domestic partnership with someone else.

Other marriages and partnerships can be annulled (declared invalid) because of:

  • Age at the time of marriage or domestic partnership: the party filing for the annulment was under 18 years old at the time of the marriage or domestic partnership.

  • Prior existing marriage or domestic partnership: Either party was already legally married or in a registered domestic partnership. This is different from bigamy (which is automatically illegal) because, in this case, the marriage or domestic partnership took place after the former spouse or domestic partner was absent for 5 years and not known to be living or generally thought to be dead.

  • Unsound mind: either party was of “unsound mind” or unable to understand the nature of the marriage or domestic partnership, including the obligations that come with it.

  • Fraud: Either party got married or registered the domestic partnership as a result of fraud. The fraud must have been about something vital to the relationship that directly affected why the party who was deceived agreed to the marriage or domestic partnership. Some examples are marrying only to get a green card or hiding the inability to have children.

  • Force: either party consented to getting married or filing a domestic partnership as a result of force.

  • Physical incapacity: the parties got married or registered a domestic partnership while 1 of them was “physically incapacitated” (basically, it means that 1 of the spouses or partners was physically incapable of “consummating” the relationship) and the incapacity continues and appears to be “incurable.”

What is a Summary Dissolution?

The simplest and drama-free method of leaving a marriage is to simply divorce. This process can be easy and stress-free with the assistance of legal counsel. It is recommended that at least one party be represented by an attorney. If you meet certain criteria, you also have the option of a summary dissolution. A summary dissolution, which is essentially a streamlined divorce, may be granted if these conditions are met:

  1. You satisfy the residency requirements;

  2. You and your spouse both file for summary dissolution within five years after becoming married;

  3. There are no children in the picture;

  4. You do not own (separately or with your spouse) any real estate;

  5. You do not have debts totaling more than $6,000 (except for auto loans);

  6. Excluding vehicles, the marriage’s community property (property acquired during marriage) does not exceed $38,000;

  7. You or your spouse do not own separate property worth more than $38,000 (with some exceptions);

  8. You and your spouse both agree to not ask for financial support; and

  9. You and your spouse have agreed on a plan to divide community property and debts.

Divorce is simple!

Many people believe that divorce has to be a dramatic and public undertaking. On the contrary if both parties are mature the divorce process can be quick and painless! California allows divorce on the grounds of irreconcilability. This means that both partners, for one reason or another, just did not get along. You DO NOT need to provide any reasoning at all on why you want the divorce...which means there is no need to put your personal life on blast!


Going through a divorce or figuring out if you are eligible for an annulment or summary dissolution should be done with the assistance of an experienced family law attorney. Contact us today for a one-on-one consultation so we can understand your unique legal situation.

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The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship.

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