What Is an Annulment?

San Diego Annulment Attorneys Explain Differences and QualificationsPhoto of Two Individuals Signing Papers

Sometimes divorce is not the best solution to ending a marriage. After all, the process can be lengthy, emotional, costly and sometimes feel nearly impossible. For example, you or your spouse’s religious beliefs may prohibit divorce. Furthermore, you can face a heated battle over assets, property and child custody/support. For these reasons, an annulment of the marriage — rather than divorce — may work in your favor. However, drafting annulment claims require specific qualifications typically requiring help from an attorney.  If you are considering an end to your union, our San Diego annulment attorneys can help.

Our family law lawyers understand how hard ending a union with your spouse can be. No one wants to admit defeat in a relationship. Take heart in knowing that you can benefit from legal help during your separation. Our attorneys can draft agreements that divide your assets and protect your interests. Furthermore, we can work with you and your circumstances to determine if you can qualify for an annulment. No matter what type of situation you are in, we would like to help.

What Is the Difference Between Annulment vs Divorce?

Ultimately, divorce legally ends a marriage. It declares that you were in a union, but that union has ended. As a result, both parties return to “single” status. For the rare few that qualify, the annulment process sets aside the marriage. Getting an annulment does not end your marriage — instead, it states that you were never married to begin with. Essentially, an annulment makes it so that your marriage never existed — therefore making it invalid — and any record of it is erased.

When filing for an annulment, you and your former spouse will still have to divide and distribute property, assets and debts. Additionally, unlike in a divorce, neither party can receive spousal support nor survivorship benefits. Further, paternity will also change — California courts will recognize that children were born to two single parents in the case of an annulment. An annulment does not prevent a parent from being responsible for the support and well-being of their child. For these and other reasons, it is in your best interest to contact an annulment attorney.

Legal Reasons for an Annulment

Our San Diego annulment attorneys can help establish specific requirements for marriage annulment, including:

  • Incestuous: when the people who are married or in a registered domestic partnership are close blood relatives; or
  • Bigamous: where a spouse or domestic partner is already married to or in a registered domestic partnership with someone else.

Other marriages and partnerships can be annulled and declared invalid due to:

  • Age at the Time of Marriage or Domestic Partnership: the party filing for the annulment was under 18 years old at the time of the marriage or domestic partnership.
  • Prior Existing Marriage or Domestic Partnership: Either party was already legally married or in a registered domestic partnership. This is different from bigamy (which is automatically illegal) because, in this case, the marriage or domestic partnership took place after the former spouse or domestic partner was absent for 5 years and not known to be living or generally thought to be dead.
  • Unsound Mind: either party was of unable to understand the nature of the marriage or domestic partnership, including the obligations that come with it.
  • Fraud: Either party got married or registered the domestic partnership as a result of fraud. The fraud must have been about something vital to the relationship that directly affected why the party who was deceived agreed to the marriage or domestic partnership. Some examples are marrying only to get a green card or hiding the inability to have children.
  • Force: either party consented to getting married or filing a domestic partnership as a result of force.
  • Physical Incapacity: the parties got married or registered a domestic partnership while one of them was “physically incapacitated” (basically, it means that one of the spouses or partners was physically incapable of “consummating” the relationship) and the incapacity continues and appears to be “incurable.”

These are incomplete descriptions for an annulment and the analysis requires an application of your circumstances to the applicable statute.  The annulment cases we see the most are a second marriage when the first marriage was not legally ended resulting in bigamy and fraud where a fundamental and material representation about the marriage is deceptive, for example the marriage is premised upon having children only to learn after marriage that one spouse is sterile, knew about the impotency, and made material misstatements of fact inconsistent with the true circumstances of the impotency.

Why Do I Need a San Diego Annulment Attorney?

More often than not, the purpose for pursuing a difficult annulment instead of a divorce is about undoing a mistake or avoiding a significant financial inequity. As a result, annulments tend to be emotionally charged— having an unbiased third party can lend rationale and keep tensions at bay during the proceedings. Our experienced and professional San Diego annulment attorneys are prepared to build your case every step of the way. Our lawyers take the time to hear your story from your point of view.

Annulment Questions? Contact Our California Attorneys for a Free Consultation

Have you discovered your marriage is invalid? Do you have concerns over how divorce will affect time with your children or division of assets? Unfortunately, regardless of the circumstances, ending a union is never easy. Further, qualifying for annulment in California can be difficult. If you do not go through the proper motions to end your marriage, then your assets — and time with your children — could be divided in an unfavorable way. Whether divorce or annulment, our attorneys can help ease your burden and bring clarity to your case. From start to finish, our lawyers are here to guide you through the process.

You and your rights deserve protection. If you find yourself in an unresolvable dispute involving your marriage, call us today. With a free initial consultation, we can review your situation and tell you how we can help. Our lawyers will give you the practical legal advice you need. If you do not qualify for an annulment, we can guide you through a divorce that protects your rights and meets your best interests. Contact our attorneys online or call our San Diego office at 619-269-8000 to schedule your complimentary consultation today.