Annulments Attorney in Los Angeles
Annulment and “nullity” cases are the method in which a court will enter a judgment that a marriage never existed.
There are certain types of marriages in California: Those that are valid marriages, those that are void marriages, and those that are voidable marriages.
A valid marriage occurs when folks obtain the proper license with their city or town, and have a ceremony. Void marriages are automatically invalid, and occur in situations where a person is already married when they attempt to get married again, for example. Voidable marriages can be voided by a court in Los Angeles when there is fraud or other similar circumstances.
Our attorneys have litigated many nullity cases in the Southern California Family Courts in Orange County, San Diego County, and Los Angeles. Annulment cases can be extremely difficult to handle for many reasons, particularly because they are not a matter of “right” like with a divorce – the court must grant a nullity for a specific legal reason. There are also complexities in the law that make annulment cases difficult to maneuver. We have the experience to guide you through your potential annulment or divorce case; you simply need to contact our office to schedule your consultation with our office.
How is an Annulment Different than a Divorce?
Annulment cases have some similarities and many important differences than dissolution of marriage cases. Below are a list a similarities and differences between nullity and divorce cases:
- Parties to an annulment case must complete their preliminary declarations of disclosure, which primarily consists of the Schedule of Assets and Debts and Income and Expense Declaration.
- The cases is initiated by the filing of a Petition, which is the same form as the petition form used for both dissolution of marriage and legal separation.
- The filing party is called the petitioner; the responding party is called the respondent.
- The flow of the case follows the same pattern as a divorce; the parties attend certain scheduling hearings, a mandatory settlement conference, and a trial setting conference before a trial will be set.
- Temporary spousal support can be ordered during the pendency of the case in certain circumstances.
- The case will end by an agreement in writing between the parties or in open court, or by a family court judge making a judgment.
- The granting of a nullity request can only be done if one of the pre-requisite legal basis for the request exists. In short, there has to be a reason for the annulment and the parties are not permitted to just agree to an annulment without proving the grounds for the annulment. Dissolution of marriage is usually based on irreconcilable differences and no reason for the divorce is required.
- Upon the granting of an annulment it is as if the parties were never married.
- Permanent spousal support is not ordered if a nullity is granted.
- The division of “community” property will not be done because there is no community property if the marriage never existed. The family court judge in Hemet (where all annulment cases for Temecula residents are held) will divide “quasi-community property” (property that “would have” been community) or simply assign separate property to each spouse.
- One spouse may be determined to be a “putative” spouse under the Family Code so long as that spouse believed they were legally married, took the steps to obtain a marriage license and participated in a marriage ceremony and the parties thereafter held themselves out as husband and wife. This concept is not applicable to divorce cases. See Family Code 2251.
What are the Grounds for Getting an Annulment?
The grounds for the court to grant an annulment include:
- A marriage is automatically void if one party was married to another person at the time of his or her marriage to their current spouse.
- A marriage is automatically void if the parties to the marriage have an incestuous relationship.
- A marriage may be voided under the following circumstances:
- One party lacked consent to marriage (for example, if that party was not of legal age to marry and was not emancipated);
- The marriage was entered into by force, coercion, duress or fraud;
- One or both parties had an “unsound mind”.
Can Child Custody Orders by made in a Nullity Case?
What is a Putative Spouse in California?
A “putative” spouse is a person (or persons) that is designated under Family Code 2251 as having a good faith belief that their marriage was legally entered into. In such cases, the court may make orders pertaining to permanent alimony or spousal support and divide property that was acquired between the parties during their supposed marriage.
Is there a Statute of Limitations for Seeking an Annulment?
Yes. Depending on the cause of action (i.e., the legal grounds for the nullity), the petition for an annulment must be brought within a specific period of time. There are different time frames for different grounds for the annulment. For example, for annulments based on fraud, the person seeking the nullity must file an action within four years of discovering the fraud.
What if Someone Remarried Because they thought their Spouse was Deceased?
There are grounds for a person to obtain an annulment even if they remarried after believing that their spouse had passed away, or if they went missing for a period of time. California Family Code 2210(b) states that a spouse may obtain a nullity judgment if their spouse was missing for five years preceding their remarriage and the person did not know their spouse’s whereabouts, or if the spouse was “generally reputed or believed by the party commencing the proceeding to be dead at the time of the commencement of the subsequent marriage”.
What are the Next Steps?
If you are interested in learning more about annulments, you should contact an attorney. Our office would be happy to speak with you. As noted above, obtaining a judgment of annulment can be a tricky process, and you should have a lawyer’s advice throughout the process.
For more information about divorce, annulment, child custody or spousal support matters, contact our office today for a consultation. We are standing by to speak to you today.