Annulment has often been a widely-misunderstood legal concept. Civil annulments
(that is, annulments granted by the state) are similar to divorces in
that they affect a marital status. The most significant difference is
that while divorce will end an existing, valid marriage, an annulment
announces a valid marriage never actually existed between the parties involved.
California judges can issue an annulment only on certain grounds:
- The couple is related by blood
- One spouse was married already at the time of the second marriage
- One party was not yet 18 upon being married
- One spouse defrauded the other into the marriage
- One spouse has an "incurable" physical capacity
- One or both spouses is of "unsound mind"
- One spouse forced the other to get married
It is up to the person asking for the annulment to prove to the judge that
one of the above reasons exists in order for the judge to grant the annulment.
Court Orders for Annulment
If you plan to petition for an annulment, you should know that California
has a statute of limitations on when annulments can be filed.
The deadline for the statute of limitations depends on the grounds for
- If you were too young when married you have four years after turning 18
- If for bigamy, you or your spouse can file at any time while the first
spouse is still living
- If for "unsound mind," you can file any time before you or your
- If filing for fraud, you have four years to file upon discovery of the fraud
- If force was used to consent to marriage you have four years from the beginning
of the marriage
- If physical incapacity, you have four years to file from the beginning
of the marriage
Children born into an annulled marriage will need to be addressed. Parents
will have to ask the judge to establish paternity and then child support,
visitation, and permanent custody can be decided. This is not difficult
to obtain since California presumes the former husband is the biological
father of the children.
Since California does not recognize the marriage, property must be divided
by the couple themselves. Neither party can receive spousal support or
An annulment is not to be taken lightly as it has serious ramifications
on your finances and family. If you are considering an annulment or have
been served with annulment papers, call an Orange County divorce lawyer from
The Law Offices of W. Douglas McKeague to protect yourself!