When you’re expecting a lengthy and contentious divorce, the word “annulment” may sound like a breath of fresh air. After all, the English word derives from the Latin annullo, meaning to annihilate or make into nothing. However, although annulment can allow you to easily wipe the slate clean, it’s only an option for some categories of union – and unless you meet the requirements, you will have to rely on conventional divorce proceedings to end your marriage.
At Myers Family Law, our compassionate attorneys can help you decide which option makes the most sense for your family’s needs. We’ve got more than 25 years of combined experience dealing with some of the most sensitive family law matters, from working with individuals who have personality disorders to offering deft counsel in high-asset divorces. If you need an annulment, we’ll help you handle it quickly and with minimal disruption to your family life.
Eligibility Requirements for Annulment
Divorce is the officially-sanctioned process to dissolve a marriage that the law recognizes as valid. In stark contrast, an annulment doesn’t end a marriage at all, precisely because the marriage should have been considered “void” in the first place. Depending on the reason for your annulment, there may be a statute of limitations in place, which means that you would need to file within 4 years after your marriage ceremony takes place.
You could be eligible for annulment if your marriage involved the following:
- Bigamy or polygamy. It’s illegal to have more than one spouse in the United States, which means that having an existing spouse at the time of your marriage will render the second marriage void.
- A blood relationship. It’s also illegal to marry someone who is related to you by blood. In some circumstances you may simply not have known about your shared family heritage – but regardless of how it came to be, the marriage is technically invalid in California.
- An underage spouse. Under California law, 18 is the age of marital consent. If one or both spouses were underage at the time of marriage, they could not legally consent to the union or participate in the proceedings.
- Coercion or fraud. Consent is required for a healthy marriage – and it’s required under the law, too. If you were forced to marry someone against your will or without full knowledge of the situation, you can seek to have the union pronounced null.
- Mental or physical incapacity. You must be of full mental capacity and sound mind when you agree to get married. That means you can seek an annulment if your spouse is found to be of unsound mind, or if one partner was temporarily intoxicated during the marriage ceremony. You can also file for annulment if there is a physical incapacity that prevents any chance of child-rearing.
What You Can Expect During Annulment
Although annulments erase most traces of your marriage, it can still be incredibly complicated to sort through the real-world aftermath of an annulment. Marriages that are eligible for annulment may still have children, multiple properties and accounts, and other complex family needs that have to be resolved for all parties to move forward. Because California presumes paternity for children in an annulled marriage, you will most likely need the help of a skilled mediator and attorney to work out child support and custody arrangements.
At Myers Family Law, we can help you with everything from filing your annulment to resolving the issues that follow. Call us at (916) 634-0067 today and schedule your low-cost consultation in Granite Bay, Placer County, and surrounding areas.