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.
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.
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.
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.