What is Annulment?

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Annulment is commonly thought of as an option for ending a marriage but is, in fact, a finding by a judge that there never was a valid marriage to begin with. According to the text of the California Family Code, an annulled marriage or domestic partnership is deemed to be voided and judged to be a “nullity.” Another misconception is that the length of your marriage has anything to do with getting an annulment. For your marriage or domestic partnership to annulled, you must request the annulment on specific grounds.

Grounds for Annulment

The following are recognized grounds in California for the courts to grant annulment of a marriage or domestic partnership:

  • One spouse was already in a valid marriage with another living spouse before marrying (bigamy).
  • The spouses are related by blood (incestuous marriage).
  • One spouse was physically incapacitated when signing the marriage contract. Additionally, the physical incapacity persists and is unlikely to end in the future.
  • One spouse was not of sound mind and did not understand obligations of the marriage or domestic partnership.
  • The marriage contract was signed under duress (pressure).
  • The marriage was the result of fraud; this must go the essence of this relationship. For example, one spouse might get married simply to obtain a green card while the other spouse was under the impression that there was love between them.
  • The spouse requesting annulment was not of legal age to enter into a marriage or domestic partnership.
Differences Between Annulment and Divorce

One major difference between annulment and divorce is that a divorce severs a legally valid marriage, while an annulment declares that a marriage was never in place. Additionally, you must choose at least one specific grounds to request annulment, while the more-general grounds of “irreconcilable differences” is sufficient to petition for divorce.

Yet another way annulment differs from divorce is that, depending on which grounds you choose to request annulment, a statute of limitations might apply. For example, if you are requesting an annulment based upon the fact that you were under 18 when you supposedly became married, you have four years from the time you turn 18 to request the annulment. The same statute of limitations (four years) applies for the grounds of duress, fraud, or physical incapacity. The other grounds of annulment


The granting of an annulment is extremely rare in California. You will have an uphill battle proving that you can satisfy one of the reasons for an annulment. If your annulment is approved by the courts, you might also lose the presumption of paternity of your children; another consideration is the loss of the right to spousal support.

For these and many other reasons, it is crucial to speak with an empathetic and qualified family law attorney who is adept at securing annulments for clients in many different situations and from all walks of life. Anthoor Law Group would be honored to represent you; please get in touch with us here to get started with a consultation.

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