Category Archives: Annulment

5 Reasons to Seek an Annulment

5 Reasons to Seek an Annulment

In California, couples who wish to end their marriages may get a divorce. Another option – annulment – may not be as well-known but can be the right choice for some. Though an annulment and divorce both dissolve a marriage, they have different meanings. A divorce terminates a valid marriage while an annulment states that the marriage was never valid. In fact, the invalid marriage is treated as if it never happened.

Marriages are always considered invalid if:

  • The couple are close blood relatives; or
  • One of the spouses was already married or in a registered domestic partnership with another person.

Read on to learn about five more reasons a couple may seek an annulment.

Underage

If one or both parties to the marriage were under age 18 at the time of marriage, then the court can declare that the marriage is invalid.

Lack of Capacity

If one or both parties were of unsound mind, the marriage can be annulled. Someone who is of unsound mind may not understand the consequences of the wedding ceremony or even understand that a marriage has taken place.

Fraud

Sometimes one spouse will coerce someone into marriage by misrepresenting certain issues related to their partnership. For example, lying about issues like the ability to have children or the fact that the couple are marrying to affect citizenship status can lead to an annulment.

Force

A marriage can be annulled when one party compels the other to be married against their Will. One example would be a girl that is forced to marry for religious reasons.

Inability to Consummate

One party to a marriage may be unable to consummate a marriage due to an incapacity that seems incurable and likely to continue. In that case, the marriage can be dissolved through an annulment.

Do You Need to File for an Annulment or a Divorce?

There may be some advantages to filing for an annulment, since the marriage is retroactively dissolved. If you need to terminate your marriage or registered domestic partnership, contact an attorney immediately.

Judy Burger is a California Certified Family Law Specialist, and founder of the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger. Please call our offices at 415-293-8314 to set up an appointment with one of our attorneys. We assist clients along the Northern to Central California Coast.

By When Must You Request an Annulment in California?

By When Must You Request an Annulment in California?
When many people hear of an “annulment” of marriage, their thoughts turn to religious annulments, such as those given by the Catholic Church. In family law, the term “annulment” refers to a judicial order declaring a marriage invalid; this type of annulment can only be granted by a judge in a civil court proceeding. Although an annulment makes it as if a marriage never occurred, in most cases, there are deadlines by which a request for annulment must be made. The legal term for the time period by which a lawsuit must be filed is “statute of limitations.”

In California, there are two types of marriages that may be annulled: void and voidable. A void marriage is invalid from the very start. Only two types of marriages fall into this category, those that are incestuous and those that are bigamous. The other six grounds for an annulment are known as “voidable” because it requires some action to invalidate the marriage. Those grounds are age, a prior existing marriage or domestic partnership, unsound mind, fraud, force, or physical incapacity. You can read more about the grounds for annulment at our earlier blog here.

The statute of limitations for requesting a civil annulment depends on the reason for annulment.

Age

The parent of a person who marries under the age of 18 years may request an annulment any time before the child’s 18th birthday. In addition, the minor who married while under age 18 may request an annulment before his or her 22nd birthday.

Earlier Marriage or Domestic Partnership

Either party to a marriage may request an annulment if one of them has a prior existing marriage or domestic partnership. Additionally, the earlier spouse or domestic partner may request that the marriage be annulled.

Unsound Mind

An annulment on the ground that one of the parties was of unsound mind must be requested before either party to the voidable marriage dies. Either the spouse who claims the other spouse was of unsound mind or a person who is legally responsible for the person of unsound mind may request the annulment.

Fraud

If one of the parties to a marriage entered into the marriage because of fraud, he or she may request an annulment within four years after discovering the fraud.

Force

A person who was forced to give his or her consent to marry may request an annulment within four years after the date of marriage.

Physical Incapacity

A spouse may have a marriage annulled on the ground that the other spouse was physically incapable of consummating their relationship. This type of annulment must be requested within four years of the date of marriage.

California laws include specific requirements that must be met for an annulment, and the person requesting the annulment must prove that one of the grounds exists. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger have extensive experience in family law matters, including annulments. Contact us today to learn how our attorneys can protect you and your children: (415) 293-8314.

Best Interest of the Children: What Does It Mean for California Families?

Best Interest of the Children: What Does It Mean for California Families?
California courts often cite to the “best interest of the children” standard when making rulings and issuing decisions on family law matters.  Where does this language come from, and what does it mean for you?


California laws, in many places, refer to the “best interest of the children” or “best interest of the child.” The core statute on what this means is California Family Code § 3011, which is a general provision of law relating to custody.


Section 3011 lists several factors that courts must consider when determining what is in the best interest of children:

  • The child’s “health, safety, and welfare”;
  • Any history of abuse against a child, the other parent, or a parent’s significant other;
  • The nature and amount of the child’s contact with both parents; and
  • Either parent’s use of illegal, controlled substances, or habitual use of alcohol or prescribed controlled substances.

The “best interest of the child” standard applies to many types of proceedings:

  • Divorce;
  • Annulment;
  • Legal separation;
  • Actions for exclusive custody;
  • Custody or visitation actions under the Domestic Violence Prevention Act;
  • Custody or visitation actions under the Uniform Parentage Act; and
  • Custody or visitation actions under brought by a California district attorney.

The “best interest of the child” standard is also at play in related proceedings, such as child custody evaluations and parenting plans.


The California Legislature’s widespread application of the “the best interest of the child” standard shows its commitment to the health and well-being of children. In hotly contested child support matters, you need an attorney to fight for you and your child. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger have extensive experience in divorce, child custody, and child support matters. Make the call today to learn how our attorneys can protect you and your children: (415) 293-8314.

What Is an Annulment and Am I Eligible to Get One?

What Is an Annulment and Am I Eligible to Get One?

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between a divorce and an annulment? The term “annulment” is sometimes used to refer to a marriage being annulled by a church or religious authority. However, an annulment has a very specific meaning from a legal standpoint.

A judgment of nullity under California law is commonly called an “annulment”. Whereas a divorce represents the end of a valid, legal marriage, a judgment of nullity, once rendered, declares that no legal marriage ever existed.

There are two categories of annulments in California, marriages that are void and those that are voidable. Void marriages are illegal and void from the beginning. Only incestuous and bigamous marriages fall into this narrow category. Incestuous marriage is defined by law as those between close blood relatives, including parents with children, siblings with half siblings, and uncles or aunts with nieces and nephews. First cousins are not on this list. Bigamous marriages, on the other hand, occur when one of the spouses is currently married to someone else and that marriage has never been terminated, such as by divorce, death, or annulment.

The grounds for annulment based on voidable marriage are explicitly listed in California statutes:

  • Lack of capacity due to age (under 18) and no parental consent;
  • Lack of capacity due to unsound mind, such as extreme intoxication or mental impairment;
  • Consent to marriage obtained by fraud, such as misrepresenting the ability to have children;
  • Consent to marriage obtained by force;
  • Prior existing marriage, in which the party believed his or her spouse had been dead or missing for at least five years; and
  • Lack of physical capacity to be married, such as male impotence, that appears to be incurable.

Marriages based on these grounds are valid unless and until a court enters a judgment of nullity. There is a significant exception, however, for the first four of these grounds: The marriage is not voidable if, after the condition passes (age, unsound mind, fraud, or force), the affected party voluntarily lives with the would-be spouse. For example, if a person marries while 16 years of age but continues to live with the spouse once she is 18, her marriage will no longer be voidable.

There may be unintended consequences to annulments. For instance, there will generally be no right to spousal support because the marriage was never valid, and there will be no presumption of community property for assets acquired during the “marriage.” If children were born, their paternity will have to be adjudicated before custody, visitation, and child support can be determined by the court.

Specific time frames apply to each of these grounds for voidable marriages, and the facts of each situation can change the outcome. If you are interested in learning more about whether your marriage may be void or voidable, you should consult with an experienced family law attorney. Judy L. Burger has extensive experience in all family law matters in Northern California. Call her today or contact her online to learn about how California law applies to the facts of your case.

What are the Basics of an Annulment in California?

OopsWe recently discussed the ongoing saga of Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries. Our readers may recall that the couple split up after being married for a very short time. Kardashian wants a divorce while Humphries wants an annulment. Most people are familiar with divorce, but what exactly is an annulment and how do you go about getting one? An annulment is declared when a court determines that your marriage or legal partnership was invalid from the start.  The ten-dollar Latin legal phrase is “void ab initio,” when means void from the beginning. An annulment basically unwinds a marriage as though it never existed.  Some of the reasons a marriage can be declared void in California include bigamy and incest.  Other grounds for an annulment include:
  1. When one party was of unsound mind.
  2. When one party was induced to enter into the marriage by fraud.
  3. When one of the parties was forced into the marriage.
  4. When one of the parties was physically incapacitated at the time of the marriage and the incapacitation appears to be incurable.
If you feel that your marriage meets the criteria to be annulled, contact the Law Offices of Judy Burger today. At the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger, we will aggressively pursue the best outcome possible for you in your divorce or annulment proceedings.  Judy L. Burger is known for taking a firm stand for her clients in high conflict cases in and around the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento areas.  Call us today to learn more about how we can help.  Call (415)293-8314 in the San Francisco Bay area or (916)631-1935 in the Sacramento area, or contact us online via our confidential inquiry form.

In California You May Be Considered the “Baby Daddy” Without Being the Baby’s Daddy

PregnantCelebrities and the sometimes twisted lives they lead make for fabulous tabloid fodder – entertaining perhaps, but not usually educational per se. On the contrary, the current soap opera surrounding Kim Kardashian, Kris Humphries, and Kanye West provides the perfect scenario to learn about one aspect of California law most people may be unaware of. Kardashian and Humphries married on August 20, 2011.  Seventy-two days later, they split up and Humphries claimed the marriage was a fraud from the get-go.  In legal parlance, Humphries claimed grounds for an annulment.  Kardashian, on the other hand, wanted a divorce and denied any fraud on her part.  Leaving the intervening details to the tabloids, suffice it to say that as of January 2013 Kardashian and Humphries are still legally married. Which brings us to the twist in this story:  Kim Kardashian is pregnant and it’s no secret that the baby was sired by Kanye West.  Nonetheless, under California law, as long as Kardashian is married to Humphries, Humphries will be presumed by law to be the baby’s father.  Like other states, California has anti-bastardization laws, also known as parentage laws, which state when a mother is married, her newborn child is legally presumed to be her husband’s child. In other words, Humphries will be deemed to be the baby’s legal father unless he disputes parentage through the court system.  He will have all the rights and responsibilities of a father to include visitation rights and the duty to provide child support. Surely Kardashian and West can put together enough money for diapers and daycare, but you never can tell with some folks.  Humphries may want to take steps to protect his good name, especially since he claims he was never legally married to begin with. At the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger, we will persistently pursue the best outcome possible for you in your divorce, custody, or other family law matter.  Judy L. Burger is known for her aggressive representation of clients in high conflict cases in and around the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento areas.  If you are a parent facing a custody dispute, call us today to learn more about how we can help.  Call (415)293-8314 in the San Francisco Bay area or (916)631-1935 in the Sacramento area, or contact us online via our confidential inquiry form.

Planning for a Divorce in California

Erase Getting divorced is seldom a walk in the park.  Nobody gets married planning to go through a divorce sometime down the road.  But, life happens and people sometimes change or grow in different directions.  As family law attorneys, we see the effects of such changes every day.  The most common phrase we hear is “He (or she) is not the same person I married.” If divorce seems to be looming on the horizon, this is not the time to ignore the problem and hope it goes away.  Face the issue head on and start planning to ensure the best outcome possible. It goes without saying that choosing the right divorce lawyer is the first critical step in a divorce.  A consultation does not necessarily mean a commitment, but a qualified, experienced California divorce lawyer can answer questions you didn’t even know to ask.  A consultation is well worth the cost if it can save you thousands of dollars in costly mistakes. For those who plan to seek custody of the children, it is not too early to start a journal.  Chronologically record specific events that relate to your spouse’s interaction and relationship with the children.  Your attorney can help you distinguish which events are more important than others. Finally, put your accountant’s hat on and list all of the assets and debts you believe should (or shouldn’t) be included in the marital pie. Instead of thinking of divorce as an ending, think of it as a beginning.  You will have a chance to spend time thinking, planning, and dreaming.  Better relationships can be built with your children and extended family.  You will have a fresh opportunity to become comfortable with who you are rather than what someone else wants you to be.  And when you’re ready, you will have a chance to start over. Judy L. Burger is known for her aggressive representation of clients in high conflict cases in and around the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento areas. If you are a spouse facing divorce, call us today to learn more about how we can help. Call (415)293-8314 in the San Francisco Bay area or (916)631-1935 in the Sacramento area, or contact us online via our confidential inquiry form.

Will You Change Your Name When You Get Married or Divorced?

Engagement As a rule, this question is not the first thing people think of when considering marriage or divorce, but it is a big decision with many benefits or consequences.  Besides the social issues, a name change may present logistical challenges that must be overcome carefully and thoughtfully. Traditionally, a wife changed her last name to her husband’s last name, and that is still the most common choice.  Other options exist, including one or both spouses hyphenating their last names to form a new last name. If you decide to change your name at the beginning or end of a marriage, one of the most important entities that must be satisfied is the Social Security Administration (SSA).  Expect headaches come tax time if the name on your tax returns differs from the information maintained by the SSA.  To notify the SSA, file a form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card and submit it with the necessary attachments.  Take care to completely fill out the correct forms and include the proper supporting documents. If you are changing your name pursuant to a marriage, the SSA will require an original or certified copy of your marriage certificate.  You can probably get this document from the county clerk in the county where you got married. If you are changing your name due to a divorce, the SSA requires an original or certified copy of your final divorce decree.  You should keep a couple of certified copies on hand, especially if you have children, because it’s practically inevitable that you will need a certified copy at some point.  The clerk of court in the county where you were divorced will make certified copies for a nominal fee. One important note is to be sure to notify your attorney before your divorce is final if you wish to change your name after the divorce.  Your attorney should then ensure that the necessary language is included in the final decree to facilitate your post-divorce name change. At the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger, we will persistently pursue the best outcome possible for you in your divorce proceedings, whether you need to demonstrate the other spouse’s faults, or defend such claims.  Judy L. Burger is known for her aggressive representation of clients in high conflict cases in and around the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento areas.  If you are a spouse facing divorce, call us today to learn more about how we can help.  Call (415)293-8314 in the San Francisco Bay area or (916)631-1935 in the Sacramento area, or contact us online via our confidential inquiry form.

What are California’s Rules for Spousal Support?

When is Spousal Support Allowed?
When is Spousal Support Allowed?
Spousal support, also known as alimony, is a payment made by one spouse to the other for support during or after legal separation or divorce.  A party can ask the court in his or her first filing to award temporary alimony to help the party meet expenses during the divorce. Similarly, a party seeking a domestic violence restraining order may also seek spousal support. A judge must consider certain factors before awarding spousal support, such as the ages of the parties, the standard of living of the parties during the marriage, the earning capacity of both parties, and the length of the marriage or domestic partnership.  Domestic violence committed by one party against the other may also be considered. Spousal support generally falls into one of two categories depending on the intended purpose of the alimony.  Rehabilitative alimony is intended to help a spouse get on his or her feet financially and usually is limited to a specific amount of time.  Permanent alimony may include monthly payments, lump sum payments, annuity payments, or trust payments.  Permanent alimony usually terminates upon the remarriage or romantic cohabitation of the receiving spouse or upon the death of either party. The Law Offices of Judy L. Burger can assist you in pursuing or defending a claim for spousal support.  Judy L. Burger is known for her aggressive representation of clients in high conflict cases in and around the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento areas. If you are in need of assistance regarding alimony, call us today to learn more about how we can help.  Call (415)293-8314 in the San Francisco Bay area or (916) 631-1935 in the Sacramento area, or contact us online via our confidential inquiry form.

Facing a Divorce, Separation, or Annulment in California

Breaking up in California
Breaking up in California
At its core, a marriage is a contract.  Like other contracts, when one party fails to live up to the agreed terms, the contract can be considered broken and the other party may want out.  To be released from the marital contract, you will likely need to pursue one of three actions: divorce, legal separation, or annulment. As we’ve discussed before, California is a “no-fault” state.  To support a petition for divorce, you need only allege irreconcilable differences.  If you’ve properly reached agreements regarding child custody and property divisions, you may meet the criteria for a summary dissolution, the quickest of all divorces in California. The fact that divorce is common does not make it any easier to face. Going through a divorce can be one of the most stressful times in a person’s life and should not be taken lightly.  The terms of a divorce can stay with you the rest of your life, affecting your financial stability, existing family relationships, and future family relationships. While divorce is by far the most commonly used method of ending a marriage, it is not the only option.  Some couples have reasons to seek a legal separation rather than a divorce.  Some reasons a couple may choose a legal separation include:
  • Wanting to live apart and get orders from the court about money, property, and parenting issues.
  • Avoiding a divorce for religious reasons.
  • Avoiding a divorce because of other personal beliefs.
  • The couple does not meet the residency requirements to file for divorce in California, and they do not want to wait to put distance between themselves.
  • Avoiding a divorce because of financial reasons such as health insurance and spousal benefits.
A legal separation is not the same thing as a divorce, and a person who is legal separated cannot get remarried.  He or she is still legally married. The third method of dissolving the marital contract is an annulment. Once annulled, in the eyes of the law, your marriage never occurred.  An annulment can be granted due to a circumstance at the time of the marriage that rendered the marriage void as though it never happened. These are the basics, but here are many more factors to consider when deciding how to best go your separate ways. At the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger, we will discuss your situation and help you choose the best course of action to meet your goals. Judy L. Burger is known for her aggressive representation of clients in high conflict cases in and around the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento areas.  If you are facing divorce, call us today to learn more about how we can help.  Call (415)293-8314 in the San Francisco Bay area or (916)631-1935 in the Sacramento area, or contact us online via our confidential inquiry form.