Is an Annulment Right for You?
Ending a relationship, especially a marriage, is never easy. Depending on the circumstances, it can be rather messy. When involved in a legally binding marriage, there are a few options to consider for ending that legal contract. For many, this path is divorce. For some, this path may be an annulment. It can be challenging to have an annulment granted, so it is crucial to speak with an attorney to help you understand if this is the appropriate route for you. There are limited reasons that qualify for an annulment, and you’ll have to provide adequate evidence to do so. You will also potentially face a statute of limitations, which will put a deadline on your ability to file. An experienced annulment attorney such as the attorneys at Bickford Blado & Botros can guide you in this process.
Reasons for Annulment
There are numerous reasons to seek an annulment. All of these circumstances require evidence. The evidence required will vary depending on the circumstances, including:
- The couple is related by blood—this is one of the few circumstances where obtaining an annulment isn’t difficult. These cases are often processed immediately.
- Age at the time of marriage—In the state of California, if either person was younger than 18 at the time of the marriage, this could fall under the umbrella of an annulment.
- Prior existing marriage—This differs from the circumstances of bigamy, which is entering a marriage while already married. This form is automatically illegal. The existing prior marriage is a circumstance where the previous marriage was over five years ago, and it is not known if that individual is still alive and or dead.
- Unsound mind—This circumstance involves proving an inability to understand the nature of the marriage, including obligations and duties. This can include mental conditions and even severe intoxication.
- Fraud—Withholding information that is vital to the relationship. This withheld information directly affects the party deceived. Circumstances like this could include a false marriage to obtain a green card or hiding the inability to have children.
- Force—entering a marriage through force and not desire.
- Physical incapacity—Due to physical restrictions, the union is never consummated. This typically refers to male impotence that prevents the couple from having sexual relations.
Understanding the Timeframe
People must be able to prove one of these circumstances for a judge to grant an annulment. A common misconception is that the length of your marriage can impact your ability to receive an annulment. This is not the case. Even a short marriage may still require legal separation or divorce and wouldn’t qualify for an annulment. In California, it is important to understand the statute of limitations for your case. There is no statute of limitations for a legal separation or divorce. An annulment has a statute of limitations, and the limitations depend on what form of annulment you are seeking.
- Four years—Age, fraud, force, and physical incapacity fall under a four-year statute of limitations. The start of this four-year span varies. For example, with the age at the time of marriage limitation, this four-year period starts once the underage individual turns 18. For fraud, the four-year mark begins at the discovery of the fraud itself.
- Prior marriage cases can be filed at any point if both parties are still alive.
- Unsound mind cases can be filed at any point before death.
Effects of Filing for Annulment
There are some circumstances to consider when deciding if you want to seek an annulment rather than a divorce. When you file for an annulment, you are setting out to prove that the marriage was never valid and that there is no legal connection between parties. This can impact a few different circumstances in your life. One of these circumstances is paternity.
When filing an annulment, you’re showing that there was no validity in the marriage. Because this would remove your marital status, any children born during the marriage would legally be seen as being born to single parents. In this circumstance, a judge will have to establish paternity. This will then allow child support, visitation, and permanent custody to be set. Luckily, in California, there are several presumptions of paternity when it comes to children. This makes it less of a hassle to establish paternity, especially in circumstances of annulment.
Annulment also impacts the court’s ability to make rulings when it comes to the separating couple. Because an annulment removes the validity of the marriage, it also removes the authority of the court to award alimony or divide property or debts. This means that couples must separate their own property, including assets and debts. California follows community property laws, which means that all property is separated equally between the individuals in the case of a divorce. These property laws do not apply to individuals who seek an annulment. An individual will also be unable to receive spousal support or survivorship benefits such as inheritance or retirement.
Is an Annulment Right for You?
Separations are never easy, and neither is determining what the best route might be for you to do so legally. Annulments can be challenging to obtain. You’ll have to prove that your circumstances fit the approved reasons for filing for an annulment. You’ll also want to consider your financial and familial circumstances. In California, the rights of both individuals have certain protections when filing a divorce that are not granted to those who file for an annulment. If you are considering this route, it is vital to have an experienced attorney who can help you navigate your choices.
San Diego Annulment Attorneys
If you and your partner are looking to separate and considering an annulment, contact our firm. Our team has the experience and compassion to consider all the implications of your separation and ensure the best possible course for your future. If you have questions, call our firm. The attorneys at Bickford, Blado, and Botros are available to help answer any questions and guide you in the best direction for settling your separation.
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