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Annulment Update

Los Angeles Annulment Attorney

On occasion, where the validity of the marriage is in doubt, instead of getting divorced or legally separated, a party may seek to obtain an annulment. In California, annulments are legally referred to as "Nullity of Marriage" and a Judgment for Nullity of Marriage nullifies the marriage and allows the parties to proceed with their lives as if they were never married.

Contrary to common belief, a marriage does not automatically qualify for an "annulment" merely because the parties were married for a short time or because the parties never engaged in sexual relations. On the contrary, the law is very specific as to the grounds for annulment. An important distinction is whether the marriage is "void" or "voidable."

A void marriage or domestic partnership (California Family Code §§ 2200-2201) is invalid from its inception. It never legally existed. For example, a marriage based on incest or bigamy is void from the beginning and cannot exist, regardless of the legitimacy of the relationship.

By contrast, a voidable marriage or domestic partnership (California Family Code § 2210) is valid for all civil purposes between the parties and against the world until it is adjudged a nullity. Examples of marriages that are voidable include marriage to minors, if either party is of unsound mind, or a marriage procured by force or fraud. It is important to note that a nullity cause of action based on a voidable marriage or domestic partnership is subject to a statute of limitations that varies depending on the specific grounds for the nullity.

Parties to an "invalid" marriage or domestic partnership generally do not have the rights and obligations that parties to a valid marriage have. However, an exception to this is if a party to an invalid marriage or domestic partnership believed in good faith the marriage was valid (California Family Code § 2251). Such a party is considered a "putative spouse" and he or she may be entitled to property, support and attorney fees/costs, based on his or her "putative spouse" status.

The attorneys at Cooper-Gordon LLP have handled many nullities and are available to discuss your facts with you to see if you qualify for a nullity and if so, whether obtaining that specific relief would be appropriate for you.