The Typical 3 Ways Marriages End in California

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If you are thinking about ending your marriage, there are a lot of factors to consider when deciding the best route for you and your family. Ultimately, you should discuss your options with an experienced, divorce attorney that could help you understand the laws and processes surrounding California divorce and separation. However, here are three ways marriages in California typically end:

#1: Divorce

California is a no-fault divorce state. This means that you or your spouse do not have to prove to the court that your marriage has failed. However, divorce can be complicated and can take multiple forms:

  • Uncontested divorce: An uncontested divorce is possible when you and your spouse agree on every aspect of your separation or if your spouse does not engage in the divorce.
  • Contested divorce: If you and your spouse disagree about aspects of your divorce such as child custody, property division or debt division, then you could face a contested divorce.
  • Collaborative divorce: Rather than working through the court system, a collaborative divorce is drafted through a legal team. A collaborative divorce could be an option if both parties want to avoid court and believe negotiation could be used to settle the divorce.

#2: Legal Separation

A legal separation does not legally end your marriage. Under California law, you would still be married, so you would not be able to marry someone else. A legal separation could give you time to decide whether you want to ultimately file for divorce. During this time, you would be able to continue benefits of your marriage such as medical or social security benefits.

However, legal separation works similarly to a divorce too. Like a divorce, you can ask the court to make orders about:

  • Child custody and visitation rights
  • Spousal support and child support
  • Division of property and assets
  • Debt division

#3: Annulment

Annulment is not the same as filing for divorce. Annulment is a verdict by the court that your marriage never existed under law because it was legally invalid. For example, under California law, a court will annul a marriage if close blood-relation or bigamy exists. In addition, a court could annul a marriage due to factors including, but not limited to:

  • Age: If you or your spouse were under the age of 18 when married, your marriage could be annulled.
  • Fraud: If you or your spouse were married under fraudulent pretenses such as being married for citizenship privileges, then your marriage could be void.
  • Physical incapacity: If you or your spouse were physically incapacitated at the time of marriage and it has continued unexpectedly throughout the marriage, then the court could grant annulment.

It’s important to keep in mind that you have to prove to the court that one or more of these circumstances exists and should be a basis for setting aside the marriage before the court will consider declaring an annulment.  In California, annulments are very, very rarely granted. Also, an annulment does not have the same outcome that a divorce could. Property and asset division cannot be decided by the court and neither you or your spouse could receive spousal support. Therefore, it may not be best approach even where it can be proven.  

Need a San Diego Divorce Lawyer?

If you have questions about your options for divorce or separation, we recommend contacting an experienced, San Diego divorce lawyer. A divorce attorney could help you understand your best legal options in regard to your situation.

In addition, having legal representation on your side could help keep you from a lengthy trial and protect your best interests during a stressful time. Call Divorce Attorneys-San Diego today at (619) 269-8000 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.