When people think of an annulment, they often mistakenly assume it is just a religious term for a divorce. In reality, there are civil annulments, which are entirely separate from any religious institution, and quite different from a divorce. Unlike a divorce, an annulment states that what appeared to be a marriage, never actually was. In other words, the two parties are declared to have never been legally married. A divorce, on the other hand, simply states that two people who had a valid marriage have ended that marriage.
Grounds for an Annulment in California
Unlike a divorce, which can be granted for any reason, an annulment is only given in very specific circumstances. The circumstances vary from state to state, and in California, the following are the only acceptable grounds for an annulment:
- Force – If one spouse forced the other spouse to get married. This could also apply if the parents or another party forced the couple to get married.
- Unsound Mind – If there is a mental condition affecting one or both of the spouses, which makes it impossible for them to understand the true requirements of marriage, an annulment is possible. This ground for an annulment can also be used if one or both parties are severely intoxicated when they got married.
- Incurable Impotence – If the husband is diagnosed with complete and permanent impotency so that the couple could never consummate the marriage, the marriage can be annulled. This has to apply from the date of the wedding.
- Fraud – If one or both parties used fraud in order to get the other party to marry them. For example, if one party convinces the other to marry them, but only so they can stay in the country.
- Age – If the party requesting an annulment was under the age of eighteen when the marriage began.
- Bigamy – If one or both spouses are already legally married to someone else at the time of the wedding.
- Incest – If the couple is closely related by blood to each other. This would include parents, children, siblings, and first cousins.
Compared to divorce, annulments are quite rare, but they do happen. If you think that you might qualify for an annulment, the first step is going to be to speak with an attorney to review your particular situation. If you would like to talk to us about the possibility of an annulment, please contact the Law Offices of Kayleene H. Writer right away.